Deutsche Bahn transported a record number of more than 40,000 containers by rail between Germany and China in 2016. “We transported more than 40,000 containers – the largest volume of freight ever – across the world’s longest rail route,” said Ronald Pofalla, Board Member for Economic, Legal and Regulatory Affairs at Deutsche Bahn. “This achievement puts us well on our way to raising the number of containers to some 100,000 by 2020 – triple the number we transported in 2014.” By late September DB already looked very likely to break the record, having transported 35,000 containers, more than the total for all of 2015.
DB offers the rail service between Germany and China in partnership with the rail companies in Poland, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China. The route spans 10,000 to 12,000 kilometers and involves several transshipments at breaks-of-gauge. The trip usually takes 12 to 16 days, making containers twice as fast as they would be if transported by ship. The service is used in particular by customers who have time-sensitive goods, such as merchandise to be sold as part of special promotions in the apparel industry or capital-intensive goods such as automotive parts or electronics. Since 2011, DB and its partners have been transporting automotive parts for the BMW Group from the German cities of Leipzig and Regensburg to an automotive plant in the Chinese city of Shenyang.
Ronald Pofalla signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China Railway (CR) in Beijing in March 2016 to expand transport between China and Germany. DB also saw several other successful projects with and within China in 2016. In June, on a delegation to China with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, DB CEO Dr. Rüdiger Grube signed an MoU for a project in Dalian, a city of six million. The project will make DB Engineering & Consulting, a Deutsche Bahn subsidiary, the first non-Chinese company to be involved in the local transport market in China. As part of a consortium, DB Engineering & Consulting will provide consulting service on the operation of local transport routes in Dalian.
Agreements were also reached for a partnership with rolling stock manufacturer CRRC (China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation), in which DB will assist with the establishment and optimization of a maintenance system for high-speed trains and collaborate with CRRC to develop infrastructure projects in other countries as part of the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative, also known as “One Belt, One Road.”