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First direct connection from China to Italy

27-Sep-2017

  • Rail Cargo Group continuing to expand
  • Container train travels more than 10,000 km-long railway line
  • Further transport operations between Europe and the Far East planned

The Rail Cargo Group (RCG) is continuing its strategy of internationalisation. Another chapter in the expansion programme has now been opened with the first rail connection from Taiyuan in Shanxi province, China to Lugo in Ravenna province, Italy. 

On behalf of China Railway Container Transportation Corp. Ltd (CRCT) – a subsidiary of the Chinese railways – Rail Cargo Operator (RCO), the intermodal specialist for high-frequency long-distance connections of RCG, completed the roughly 10,400 km-long transport of a total of 41 containers by rail, conveying automotive sector goods, among other things. Having set off from China, the container train followed a route through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, the Czech Republic and Austria, completing its journey in Italy at the terminal in Lugo. Next, RCO organised HGV transport to various factory locations in close cooperation with the Lugo terminal.

“We wanted to further increase our activities at the Lugo terminal, which play an important role as a hub for our transports to Italy. We are already serving northern Italy with regular train connections,” explains RCO CEO Tufan Khalaji, adding, “The optimal location of the Lugo terminal stood out, especially with regards to rail transport coming to Italy from China, because it allows customers to benefit from short delivery distances by HGV and from a high-frequency rail connection as far as Bari in southern Italy.” Thanks to the smooth transport operation crossing thousands of kilometres, confidence has been expressed in the Rail Cargo Group’s ability to transport goods by rail from China to Italy on a regular basis, starting in 2018.

Expansion beyond Europe’s borders

Since the Chinese market offers enormous potential for cargo transportation to Europe, the Rail Cargo Group is continuously expanding its long-distance connections. Following the premiere of the successfully completed transport connection from China to Italy, one train per week is already running from Changsha in China to Budapest in Hungary, with trains from Dobra in Slovakia to Budapest being operated with RCG locomotives.

However, the increasing appeal of the railways, in conjunction with greater cargo volumes, does present challenges, as Tufan Khalaji confirms with a fitting example: “Due to capacity bottlenecks on the Polish-Belarusian border, coupled with the increase in traffic between China and Europe, alternative routes are urgently needed to absorb the increasing traffic volume at the transition point between broad and normal gauge track.” In this regard, RCG mainly relies on its own strengths by routing increasing numbers of trains via Dobra to the company’s terminal in Budapest using its own traction stock. From Budapest, there are various dedicated branch lines to Italy, German and Turkey.

In future, the route via Kaliningrad will also play an important role for transport between China and Europe. At present RCG already operates five trains per week between Kaliningrad and Slovakia, and will use Kaliningrad as a hub for transports to China and the CIS.

The Rail Cargo Group supports the strategy of internationalisation beyond Europe’s borders with a growing range of railway logistics services to the Far East and Central Asia. For example, two trains currently run from Slovakia to Kazakhstan each month. In addition, a weekly train from Germany to Iran is scheduled to commence operations in 2018 – the first test train on this route gets under way in the autumn of 2017.