The container trains between China and Europe is taking interest of industry nowadays. Far East Land Bridge has the biggest share in this service, and Mrs Amina Jahic, Head of Operations of FELB, accepted to answer our questions.
Speed train service between China and Europe has been taking public interest nowadays. How Far East Land Bridge (FELB) is involved in this traffic?
FELB’s speed train service is already available about for a couple of years.There had been 1-2 trial trains and due to perfect results and a high demand the speed train service is already implemented as a regular product of our portfolio.
Kick-off for first container train from China to Europe was in 2007 with regular business since late 2008. In 2013, the speed trains with a transit time of 14 days from China to Europe had started.
Why rail is prefered?
You benefit from the perfect mean –faster than sea & cheaper than air transport– a significant financial advantage. Of course not every product is time sensitive but if it comes to goods with a certain value, rail is the only logical solution. A good example is the electronic industry but also retail and machinery sectors benefit from the rail advantages. Another important point is a daily tracing for some clients as well.
What’s the transit time?
Transit time for the speed train service is 14 days for Suzhou–Warszawa, 15 days for Suzhou–Hamburg and 16 days for Suzhou–Duisburg.
And what is round about price?
At the moment the price from Suzhou is USD 7400 to Warszawa, USD 7700 to Hamburg and USD 7800 to Duisburg. Local costs in China are not included. Vessels are cheaper of course but the big advantage is the transit time. Due to a short transit time you gain benefits in form of short-term capital commitment and small losses of commercial interests. Needless to say that compared to the competitors air and sea, rail freight is the environment friendliest solution as well.
And is train preferred for this traffic? Is there a considerable volume?
In 2014 the total traffic by train was 50 000 TEU. This year, total volume is expected to be 100 000 TEU.
And what’s FELB’s share?
Our share was 60% in 2014. We have a target to transport 70 000 TEU this year and get 70% share.
Which routes do you use?
Depending on the client – we’re using every route available, though the speed train service from Suzhou is going via Manzhouli/Zabaikalsk of course.
How is the performances of countries/operators on way?
Very good and reliable. With the professional attitude of the involved parties, it’s easy to improve the yet very satisfying performance. We already had speed trains with a transit time of only 12 or 13 days. However it’s too early to guarantee this term but we’re working on it.
Is there quality problems like theft, delays or missing documents?
Not at all. The last documented theft was 8 years ago. The schedule precision offers unequalled opportunities with 99,9 % of all trains in time in 2014.
Any new development or change since start?
We’re always working on developments to please clients, enlarge our portfolio and offer better services. 2014 brought up the first EB speed train (it follows the first WB speed train established in 2013) as well as the start of LCL transports/service.
How political tension between Russia and Europe affected the traffic?
There’s absolutely no effect on the traffic to and from China. The only noticeable effect is a lack of transports from Europe to Russia. The main parties to suffer in this case are the companies who are not allowed to sell their goods to Russia these days due to sanctions.
Do you think Turkey may play a role in Europe-China traffic after Baku-Tblisi-Kars railway completed?
There’s a lot of potential on this route and FELB is highly interested in this route as well of course. We’re open for everything and if a train should be done from China to Turkey – I’m sure FELB will be part of it. A big topic however will be the further transport from Kars to Western Europe and the transit time will be a crucial point of course. If another 14 days are needed from Kars to Germany this routes attractiveness will suffer a lot. In general, I guess it’s very interesting for complete Europe depending on further developments – especially in Turkey. The planned logistic-centers might be the first step for a suitable solution to avoid long transit time.
Does FELB have plans for Turkey?
It’s not our main target country yet but it can change within a minute. With the opening of Baku-Tblisi-Kars railway we have a new possibility to enter Europe and diversity is always good. Depending on the development we will have to plan our future steps in due course but we’ve already very strong partners in Turkey so time will tell.
Cover Photo: FELB ©
Interview: Onur Uysal