Forwarder from China to Tokelau

Long shipping delays have left shippers with “no choice” but to once again use central European rail freight through Russia.

Like most European freight forwarders, Netherlands-based Rail Bridge Cargo first suspended services through Russia when the conflict began. However, Igor Tambaca, its managing director, says some customers are again asking for the option to transit through Russia.

“Given the supply chain challenges in shipping, we cannot ignore companies that do not have a problem with transshipment through Russia,” he said.

“Time to market is a big issue for them. Some people say their shipping reliability is only 30 per cent and their shipping time has extended to 60 to 65 days.”

Congestion at ports in Northern Europe, particularly Hamburg and Rotterdam, also played a role, Mr Tambaca added. He cites one customer whose goods were supposed to arrive in Rotterdam but were unloaded in Antwerp and waited seven weeks for further shipments.

Congested ports and shipping delays are pushing rail freight between China and Europe through Russia

“By contrast, we can get containers from China to Duisburg [via Russia] in 16 days,” he said. That’s a big difference for a price that is sometimes the same as sea freight.”

Nonetheless, Rail Bridge Cargo has also been aggressively rolling out four services from China to Europe along the central and southern corridors, taking advantage of intermodal services through the Caspian Sea and gateway ports of Istanbul, Varna and Constanta.

“There is a lot of demand for the southern route at the moment,” Explains Tambaca. But they cannot cope with the volume because at present the route can handle only 10-15% of the volume on the northern route. However, by August, the Caspian and Black sea ferry capacity will increase.”

Overall, he estimates, freight traffic on the northern route has fallen by 60 per cent since the conflict began, but is now recovering. Freight volumes on the southern route were up 120 per cent, but “congestion is holding back new bookings”.

He said freight rates between the two routes were “quite similar”, with some southern routes cheaper because of the longer transport times.

“The southern route is now 33-38 days, while the northern route is 16-18 days,” Tambaca said.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google

Leave A Reply