Rail transportation is considered a fundamental pillar in the global movement of goods. Not least due to the current logistical challenges in the Red Sea region, companies appreciate the reliability and efficiency of transporting goods from China to Europe by rail. Sebastian Glenschek, Head of Sales at Hermes International, explains how this particular rail service works and why the connection is a safe and cost-effective alternative to sea and air freight.
Mr. Glenschek, why is freight transport from China to Europe an attractive option for companies?
Sebastian Glenschek: The train route from China to Europe or Germany enables a shorter delivery time compared to sea freight, allowing companies to get their goods to market faster. This is particularly important for time-critical products with seasonal requirements. Further, it offers a high level of reliability and predictability. Unlike sea freight, which is affected by unpredictable weather conditions or delays in port, rail routes are generally less susceptible to disruptions and logistical challenges, as is currently the case in the Red Sea region. Companies also benefit in terms of costs: Despite the fast delivery, rail service is significantly cheaper than air freight, for example.
With our door-to-door solution and seamless GPS tracking of goods along the entire route, we also offer our customers maximum transparency. Our contact persons are available at all times to answer questions about the transport status. Especially with regard to possible delays and noticeable cost increases in sea freight, Rail Service is a real alternative for companies.
What transportation options are available to companies?
Sebastian Glenschek: Depending on the goods our customers want to transport, they can choose from various options. The single container option – both Full Container Load (FCL) and Less than Container Load (LCL) – allows companies to book individual storage spaces. They can use the entire container in the standard size of 20 feet (TEU) or 40 feet (FEU) exclusively for their goods or consolidate shipments from different sources. Another interesting option is the block train solution, where companies can book an entire train for the transportation of their goods. Large quantities of goods are transported in a single operation, which is not only efficient and more cost-effective, but also makes planning easier. Those with particularly urgent delivery requirements can opt for the Fast Train. With this express option, the transportation of goods from China to Europe is completed within just 14 days.
How exactly is freight transported from China to Europe via rail service?
Sebastian Glenschek: The goods are transported via a well-planned and optimized rail route that runs through various countries in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. The goods are collected from the production site in China and carefully prepared for transportation. This also includes the labeling of the freight and the necessary documentation to ensure a smooth process. The goods are then loaded onto specialized trains designed to transport cargo safely and efficiently over long distances. The exact route depends on the origin and destination. When the goods reach European territory, they are imported and cleared through customs. The freight is then loaded onto other modes of transport to reach its final destination.
How long does it usually take for goods from China to arrive in Germany?
Sebastian Glenschek: The delivery time for goods transportation by rail usually takes around 21 days. However, there is also the express option involving our Fast Train: in this case, the delivery time is reduced to 14 days. The express option is particularly suitable for companies that need to receive their goods very quickly. In this way, they can speed up their entire supply chain and react better to short-term changes in demand.
What are the challenges and how does Hermes International support the movement of goods by freight train?
Sebastian Glenschek: Coordinating the transportation of goods across different countries and borders requires a high level of logistical expertise. Customs clearance, border controls, goods tracking, communication and risk management are just some of the challenges that need to be considered from the outset when moving goods from China to Europe. However, companies are certainly not left on their own: We have the necessary knowledge of customs regulations, documentation as well as the most efficient route for transportation. Hence, we provide our customers with the best possible support for end-to-end goods transport.
How sustainable is rail transportation?
Sebastian Glenschek: International rail transport from China to Europe offers various environmental benefits and helps companies to achieve important sustainability goals. The shorter delivery times reduce fuel consumption and emissions compared to sea and air freight: to this day, no other mode of transport has caused fewer CO2 emissions. In addition, a better control over the transport route enables a more efficient use of resources.
Mr. Glenschek, thank you very much for the interview.
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Sebastian Glenschek, Head of Sales at Hermes International