Eco-friendly container train solution between China and Europe

By The Blogging Crew, 23 April 2015

More customers are looking for greener transport solutions – but without having to compromise on lead time and cost. As a logistics and transport company we are continuously trying to find ways to minimise the environmental impact of our transports. Based on our customers needs Greencarrier Freight Services has developed an eco-friendly container train solution – just in line with the Greencarrier Spirit


Exporting goods from China to Europe in an eco-friendly, fast and cost efficient way

For more than a decade China has been increasingly dominant as the world’s largest producer of manufactured goods, and will most likely continue to be the most important exporting country for many years to come.

Many of our customers in Northern Europe who import from China request greener transport solutions. Chinese companies are also working hard to lower the pollution of their transports. At the same time they face many challenges. One of them is the long transit time for transportation between China and the Nordic countries, making them less competitive for the European market. Trying to find the best solution due to both environment and time, as well as cost, is an ever changing but always challenging task.

At Greencarrier taking responsibility for the environment is a big part of how we work and of the Greencarrier Spirit.

Rail-based transport compared to air freight and sea freight – pros and cons

There are several ways of approaching the problem, and different transport modes to choose from. The fastest solution, no doubt, would be to use air freight to transport the goods from China to Europe. However, this transport mode is the least eco-friendly and the most expensive. Another option would be to use sea freight, which is cheaper and more eco-friendly. But the lead times are three to four times longer! A third alternative is a combination of ocean transport and air freight.

The Railway solution should be seen as an alternative to the more traditional transport modes because it is a much better choice from an environmental point of view compared with air freight and the combination of sea and air freight. In addition, the lead times are much shorter than ocean freight, and the cost is lower than air freight.

Transport by rail – a highly reliable transport solution

Comparing a rail based transport solution to pure ocean freight and combined sea and air freight, there is also the reliability factor to consider. Today, port infrastructures are very strained. Many ports are ill equipped and large investments are made in port infrastructure to handle the continuously growing container vessels. It has lead to congestion and delays at a number of major ports, especially in Europe. Ocean transports from China to Northern Europe usually takes about 40 to 50 days, and the goods are often re-loaded to smaller feeder vessels in the major European Ports. The long transit time by ocean also increases the risk of sudden delays caused by bad weather conditions or congestion. Delayed transports can have serious cost effects for many customers.

A rail-based transport solution is a good option in terms of reliability. This is in particularly true for our container train solution. The transports are handled very smoothly through intermodal door-to-door solutions. With fewer steps, shorter distance and shorter transit time, potential problems are consequently limited to this time frame. The risk of delays is considerably minimised.

Container train solution between China and Europe starting in Suzhou, Shanghai

The starting point for our container train solution is well located in the Northern part of Suzhou New District. It is crossed by many highways such as China National Highway 312, Suzhou External Ring Road, Shanghai-Nanjing Expressway and Suzhou-Jiaxing-Hangzhou Expressway. Suzhou is located close to the Beijing-Hangzhou Canal, the Beijing-Shanghai Railway and Pudong International Airport. It is located in the centre of sea, air and railway transportation.

Train route from Suzhou via Manzhouli to Warsaw

The train route between Suzhou and Warsaw starts from our hub at the West Railway Freight Station in Suzhou and goes via the border crossing in Manzhouli and continues into Russia and Belarus, and finally arrives at Warsaw in Poland.

An intermodal solution with weekly departures and only 14 days transit time

From our hub in Suzhou we are offering weekly departures, both full container load (FCL) and less than container load (LCL), to Warsaw with only 14 days transit time. The container types used for the train transports are 20’DV, 40’DV and 40’HQ. The goods are collected by truck at the terminal in Warsaw and transported to the final destinations in Europe and this is handled by our own Greencarrier office in Warsaw. Our extended road network covers all Northern Europe and makes the on-carriage fast and reliable. The trains are equipped with GPS devices and we can provide our customers with daily information of the container position.

Exactly how eco-friendly is this container train solution?

The major environmental advantage of rail is the reduction of exhaust emissions. Our entire railway route is electrified and mainly supplied by hydroelectric power plants. Comparing the transit times and CO2 emissions of different transport modes for the distance between Suzhou and Warsaw, it is clear that our container train solution is a great option

  • Air freight takes 2 days and consumes 139 ton CO2
  • Ocean freight takes 40 days and consumes 2.1 ton CO2
  • Combined sea and air freight takes 22 days and consumes 77 ton CO2
  • Rail takes 14 days and consumes 5 ton CO2

With this rail setup in our product portfolio we cannot only offer a greener transport solution, we are also more reliable, flexible and a stronger logistics provider to all our customers. If you would like to cooperate with us to minimise the environmental impact of your transport needs, let us know. We are happy to guide you to the best solution for your company. For further questions contact your nearest Greencarrier Freight Services office or email your questions to me!

/ Johan Ignell, Sales Manager China Greencarrier Freight Services

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