Nippon Express, Japan’s top international freight forwarder, significantly expanded its cross-border rail transportation services between China and Europe on Monday.
The company’s full containerload (FCL) and less-than-containerload (LCL) services, previously limited to Wuhan and Chongqing for the most part, now cover many more Chinese and European cities and routes. Nippon Express and others want to capitalize on the growing demand for such services as shippers increasingly take advantage of China-Europe rail, which is cheaper than air transportation and faster than ocean shipping.
Nippon Express introduced new westbound FCL services originating in Chengdu, Yiwu, Suzhou, Shenyang, Changchun, and Xi’an, China, and eastbound FCL service routes originating in Munich, Nuremberg, and Hamburg, Germany; Brest, Belarus; Budapest, Hungary; Lodz, Poland; Madrid, Spain; and Tilburg, Netherlands.
As for LCL services, Nippon Express opened new westbound routes originating in Ningbo, Zhengzhou, Chongqing, Chengdu, Changsha, Hefei, Tianjin, Qingdao, Jinan, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Foshan, Fuzhou, Xiamen, Shanghai, and Wuxi. In addition to transportation between Germany’s Duisburg and China’s Chongqing, Nippon Express’ eastbound LCL services now also cover transportation between Hamburg and 17 Chinese destinations.
The move comes as Nippon Express works to cash in on China’s Belt and Road initiative aimed at fostering international trade by linking China to Europe and Africa by land and sea.
China from May 14 to 15 hosted some 30 world leaders in Beijing for a conference to advance the Belt and Road program, with Chinese president Xi Jinping pledging at the conference to contribute an additional 100 billion yuan ($14.5 billion) to the Silk Road Fund, which invests in Belt and Road infrastructure projects.
As part of efforts to promote the Belt and Road initiative, the Chinese government reportedly plans to nearly triple the number of cargo trains running between China and Europe annually to 5,000 in 2020 from 1,800 in 2016.
Nippon Express launched FCL services between China and Europe in November 2015 and then LCL services in August 2016.
Nippon Express now provides all its China-Europe services under the “Eurasia Train Direct” brand.
By Tomoo Yatsuhashi