Maersk halves train times from China to Europe via Turkey

Maersk freight train leaves Xian for TurkeyThe journey time for the movement of goods between China and Europe was effectively slashed in half as from last week after the Danish integrated shipping company Moeller-Maersk  launched its first rail service from the Central Chinese city of  Xi’an to Izmit on Turkey’s Sea of Marmara littoral. With the inauguration of its new  Intercontinental Rail (ICR) service, it will now take only 18 days for goods to travel from China in Europe along President Xi’s ‘Silk Railway’, compared with about 30 days along the alternative maritime routs.
It was a combination of the country’s strategic geographical location, its successful industrial diversification and its government’s commitment to improve the national rail infrastructure that prompted Maersk to set up ICR in Turkey, Maersk (Intercontinental Rail)’s Global Product Managers Kasper Krog explained.
“Since the successful launch  of our China-Europe  service three years ago, we have seen  an increase in demand by our customers for this particular service from different locations across both Asia and Europe,” he said. Maersk’s new service would be ideal for customers within the automotive and technology industrial verticals in Turkey and other segments which need fast delivery to market, and the service ICR would open up a route to the  Black Sea, Eastern Europe and Southern European, he added.
The rail link is a key artery in Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, while Turkey is also trying to establish itself as a major  transit country for both trade routes and gas and oil pipelines. It recently expanded a rail link from the eastern city of Kars through Georgia and Azerbaijan, and  has also built a rail tunnel under the Bosphorus strait, which separates the European and Asian masses.
China exported €361 billion of goods into the EU last year but less than 5% of that was transported by rail. However, as the country reopens after the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese exporters are turning to rail cargo, which has been far less affected by global quarantine measures than sea transport.