By Luke Upton, SmartRail World

DHL Global Forwarding has launched a scheduled weekly intermodal service from Suzhou in China to Warsaw in Poland, with a journey time of around 14 days which they claim is ‘half the time of ocean freight and a sixth of the cost of air freight’. The block train service routes from Suzhou along the trans-Siberian North Corridor, to DHL’s intermodal hub in Poland, connecting Suzhou with Europe. The ‘last mile’ delivery is then by local rail or truck to anywhere in Europe.

This expansion complements the existing daily single wagon service from Shanghai to Europe, also along the North Corridor, and the weekly block train service from Chengdu to Europe along China’s West Corridor rail line through Kazakhstan to Europe.

Roger Crook CEO, DHL Global Forwarding, Freight, said: “Suzhou is a strategic departure point for Jiangsu and it is a huge benefit for our customers to have direct access to inter-continental rail links rather than having to go via Chengdu. Being able to offer multiple loading points across China creates many opportunities for our customers which is why we are seeing so much interest in multimodal services.”

Broadly speaking, DHL’s multi-modal rail solution customers can expect delivery time reductions of between 10 and 21 days compared to sea freight, depending on origin and destination pairs. In addition, customers seeking environmentally friendly solutions can also expect a fall of CO2 emissions of up to 90% compared to airfreight.

As part of this multimodal rail network, DHL Global Forwarding is also exploring ways to plug other countries into the network. Using ferry services between China, Japan and Korea, it is looking to move cargo shipments onto the China rail network and create a strong North Asian multimodal network to service the major economies of the three markets and significant volume of imports and exports.

(See also: “Now departing Beijing, next stop Chicago”; US-China rail link planned (reports) )

Kelvin Leung, CEO, DHL Global Forwarding, Asia Pacific, said of this development, “DHL Global Forwarding presently already runs an existing China-Japan-China Ferry-Rail service that connects China via Shanghai to the major cities in Japan and vice versa. Cargo is transported using a ferry across the East China Sea from Shanghai to Hakata and Japan Rail – the country’s most extensive rail network. This enables goods from just about anywhere in China to reach any part of Japan via our multimodal rail-ferry service.”

“For Korea, we are exploring a ferry service across the Yellow Sea between China and Korea, and then connecting onto the Rail network in China. Once the service is in place, it will position China as a key conduit for North Asia to Europe, and greatly support customers across North Asia with a strong alternative option between air freight and ocean freight to move their shipments,” Leung added.

For further details from DHL, click here.