As a sign of the switch from airfreight to other modes to move cargo from China to Europe, Davies Turner’s direct, fixed-day, weekly rail import service from China to the UK, which re-commenced in mid-March, has broken its previously achieved record transit time.
Tony Cole, head of supply chain services at the UK’s leading independent freight and logistics company which is also a significant airfreight forwarder, says: “While air freight and ocean freight shipments face significant capacity and schedule issues, the first consol container that left China after we restarted our direct Express China Rail service into the UK in March arrived and was unpacked at our Dartford freight hub after just 17 days.
“That is several days or a full week ahead of the scheduled transit time from the Xi’an rail hub to our Dartford depot of 24 days, and beats the previous record achieved last year of 18 days.”
The weekly service that has recommenced departs the Xi’an rail hub, directly into Duisburg in Germany. Containers are then trucked under bond to the nearby port of Rotterdam and transported by ferry to Purfleet, near Dartford for on-carriage by truck to Davies Turner’s distribution centre, where they are discharged, customs cleared and the goods delivered.
Cole adds: “We moved one 40 foot groupage container on the first service in mid-March; but this has already risen to two on subsequent departures. Such is the demand in the market, I believe it could rise to three per week very soon, in addition to full container loads.
“After we launched the dedicated weekly direct consol service in November 2018, we saw it go from strength to strength prior to the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus in China. Bookings had increased continually. So it is great news that from the restart of the service, it has already returned to pre-crisis levels. And, boy, does the industry need some good news at the moment!
“Our direct Express China Rail service is clearly demonstrating that it offers a competitive alternative to air freight in regards to price, and considerably faster transit times compared to the ocean freight alternative.”
Philip Stephenson, chairman of Davies Turner comments: “The record transit time achieved by our overland railfreight service, at a time when the air and ocean freight modes face significant challenges, has really caught the attention of shippers.
“I believe that the impact of Covid-19 will push many shippers to rethink their supply chains, and that could well see a lot more Asia-Europe air and ocean freight traffic moving permanently to the rail freight option.”