All of the Netherlands aboard the NL Express to China
06.22.2021
Dutch logistics providers on the New Silk Road want to launch the NL Express: a dedicated train between the Netherlands and China with all players onboard. It is a cooperation between the companies that are currently shipping cargo on the New Silk Road, as they believe they can be stronger together.

This was announced during the RailFreight Networking Days by New Silk Way Logistics and GVT Group of Logistics, two of the companies involved in the PIB cooperation. PIB stands for Partners International Business. The partners involved want to form a united, Dutch front in doing business on the New Silk Road. «About a week ago, we launched the idea of an NL Express train», said Oscar Vermeij, managing director of New Silk Way Logistics.

Connecting the dots

As the idea is still fresh, the dots still need to be connected. These dots are for example the Chinese city of entrance. «As not all goods can be declared in all cities in China, we need to think about what is the most suitable destination for the NL Express», explained Vermeij.

Similarly, the destinations in the Netherlands must be defined. A lot of traffic runs via Tilburg, where GVT operates a terminal and runs various trains to various Chinese destinations. But also Venlo has become a transit hub over the last years, with stable connections with China.

«Rotterdam is part of the network as well. We already have many train connections between these three cities. However, most likely the focus will be on an inland terminal, as this is where the strength of rail lies. As of now, Tilburg and Venlo are the most suitable candidates.»

Tilburg

Tilburg in the province of North Brabant is the most consolidated Dutch hub on the New Silk Road. GVT has been operating a direct line to and from Chengdu since 2016. What is more, this month it launched a new connection with Nanjing, the Chinese province of Jiangsu, located in the delta area of Yangtze River. Many Dutch operators with China traffic put their cargo on the train in Tilburg.

Venlo, a logistics hub close to the border with Germany also has its eyes on the New Silk Road, although its focus is on the Middle Corridor, which runs via its partnering port of Baku in Azerbaijan. End of last 2020, a direct link Venlo-Jinan was established, which is probably not the last railway link with China.

Tilburg-Kaunas

An entirely new railway connection is currently being set up between Tilburg and Kaunas in Lithuania. «We are about to start a two-weekly service in July, in September this will increase to three times per week», revealed Roland Verbraak, General Manager of GVT Group of Logistics during the RailFreight Networking Days.

This new connection is expected to serve as another piece of the puzzle connecting Europe and China. From Kaunas, a connection can be made to the Russian port of Vladivostok, which is situated near the east coast of China and forms an important transit hub for cargo to and from China. This can be done by rail through Russia. But Kaunas also lies very close to the port of Kaliningrad, from where cargo can be shipped to the port of Vladivostok. «Kaliningrad also has a lot of connections to European ports, and to the UK», pointed Verbraak out.

Plenty of space

«There are plenty of trains and rail freight services», he responded to a question about underlying competition between the logistics operators in the Netherlands. «There is plenty of demand and plenty of routes available. We can all work together in this, as we are stronger together.»

As the PIB, the partners not only intend to set up a dedicated express train. «We are also working on a green lane for cargo between China and the Netherlands», Verbraak said. «As we cannot always do customs clearing in every Chinese city, we would like to see that customs clearing happens in the Netherlands. This would save a lot of time. In that way, the 15-day journey between Chengdu and Tilrbug could become a 13-day journey.»

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