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China-Europe rail services cut into air cargo market share

THE air cargo sector serving the trade between China and Europe is facing stiffer competition from rail freight services, with the number of China-Europe freight trains reaching 5,000 in the beginning of September, says state-owned Beijing daily Global Times.

So far 52 routes have been established between 32 Chinese cities and 32 cities in 12 European countries, said its report.

Demand for rail freight services between China and Europe has been growing sharply since the first train departed in March 2011, thanks in large part to the Belt and Road initiative, said the Global Times.

While trains have helped make logistics faster and cheaper for many clients, they have also put great pressure on the air freight market. Trains are carrying more electronics products these days, cutting into a large chunk of air carriers’ cargo business and posing competition to regional air freight.

Rail and air transport systems each have their pros and cons. Trains are slower, but they cost a lot less than planes, and that matters to many shippers. As for planes, their cargo areas are more secure and cargo is less likely to be damaged, but bad weather can cause delays, unlike trains.

While air cargo services between China and Europe may be affected by railways, ultimately it is market forces that will cause change and prompt the aviation industry to improve its services.

With trade and investment among B&R countries and regions expected to expand substantially, a regional multimodal transport network is essential to support cargo flows, and that requires coordination and cooperation from all market participants, said the report

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