Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Asia Unhedged — First UK to China freight train sets off

The journey will take half the time of shipping by boat.
Historic moment. Britain kicks off One Belt One Road.

Asia Times
First UK to China freight train sets off
Asia Unhedged

13 comments:

Matthew Franko said...

Watch Russia will block the tracks... wait for it...

Neil Wilson said...

They won't need to The tracks change to broad gauge in the old USSR between Dostyk on the China-Kazakhstan border and Brest on the Belarus-Poland border.


Tom Hickey said...

They won't need to The tracks change to broad gauge in the old USSR between Dostyk on the China-Kazakhstan border and Brest on the Belarus-Poland border.


Right. This is a glitch right now — until the track for high speed transit is laid. Coming to a country near if you live along OBOR.

Ryan Harris said...

A RR to China has the cheap goods waiting to replace German mfr goods. Puts pressure on Europe. They want to play games over Brexit and this only accelerates the substitution of Chinese/Korean/Vietnamese/Japanese goods going to UK when Europe can't be bothered with a FT agreement. I'm always stunned at UK trade statistics. They use a tremendous number of EU produced goods for which there are better quality cheaper Asian versions. Without the constraints of EU protectionist measures, UK can source further abroad.

andy blatchford said...

I hear on the grapevine that it took them 8 weeks to get a load together so there was a lot of spin in this story.
Neil is quite right though, they do swap the loco and rolling stock at the old USSR borders due the gauge difference. It is isn't a 'train' it's a rail service.

andy blatchford said...

Not sure how "high speed" will change anything Tom.

The services are using standard 40ft & 40ft HC boxes which are as aerodynamic as a brick.
Tare weight is 3630 KGS with a max gross 28780 KGS, these services take 32 containers, you can do the math but the energy of that lot coming along the tracks at 200 MPH would be erm serious!!

andy blatchford said...

"A RR to China has the cheap goods waiting to replace German mfr goods"

Not really Ryan as this service doesn't do that, it is double the cost of sea and about 40% of the cost of Air. I think I said this before but on the import side it is just a new 'middle' option. We used to do a Sea/Air Service (Sea Shanghai to Dubai and Air the rest) but the rates via Air come down so much it didn't make it economic. This really is designed (we do 2 weekly groupage boxes from China 1 from Wuhan & 1 from Hefei for LCL freight) to pick up the stuff that cant quite wait for sea (various reasons) but they have slightly more time than the Air service.

Tom Hickey said...

The services are using standard 40ft & 40ft HC boxes which are as aerodynamic as a brick.
Tare weight is 3630 KGS with a max gross 28780 KGS, these services take 32 containers, you can do the math but the energy of that lot coming along the tracks at 200 MPH would be erm serious!!


I'm have no idea how far along this is in planning, but the tracks will be switched eventually and it makes sense to figure out how to improve efficiency, which includes delivery speed. Shipping containers were designed for sea shipment.

The engineers will design something more suitable for rail eventually. I'm not saying this will happen overnight but that's the trend.

Value (quality/price ratio) is not the only factor in purchasing, but also speed and reliability of delivery at both the wholesale and retail level.

This is what's happening in merchandising now, and it is happening pretty quickly. At the wholesale level, just on time inventory has been the trend for a couple of decades now since Michael Dell developed it.

andy blatchford said...

Some good points Tom but to answer a few.

Improving efficency.
According to my companies P̶r̶o̶p̶a̶g̶a̶n̶d̶a̶ ̶FAQ the turn around at the border is under an hour.
Those type containers were designed for sea but are also used for rail & road, we don't use them by air due to the tare weight (you would paying an airfreight rate on it)
I doubt speed of freight trains has changed much in a 120 years. Using a mainline station as I do they come through often while I am waiting, you could jump on.

Speed and reliability.
"Speed" is arguable I would say more it depends as 'just in time' doesn't imply speed, I think people often confuse the two.
"Reliability" yes I quite agree and in my reply to Ryan that is what I was getting, it is a service really for when shit happens (as always, as sea isn't hugely reliable but a lot better than it used to be) the London service (inbound) isn't at the moment, with our service we terminate rail in Poland and truck it rest of the way, been working well for a few months, once the London service becomes reliable it will be ideal for us as the terminus is only a couple of miles away.

I was reading Paul Cockshott stuff a while ago about central planning and IT systems, it is what companies do now really, we offer all sorts of interfaces for info for our customers (even tracking equipment if they want it), movements are very managed now, we know where everything is at all points.



andy blatchford said...

Just to add though there is something else to take into account with this service...Temperature, the differential is -40C to +40C so isn't suitable for a lot of goods.

Tom Hickey said...

Andy, I don't think that the West is going to do this. It's going to be the Chinese. They have a vision and are going to actualize it.

And it's going to happen a lot faster than most people realize, too. They look at OBOR like the US looks at the military.

OBOR is about who controls the world island and its rimland. The Chinese plan is economic hegemony rather than military. They will do with both rail and sea. This includes Asia, Eurasia, Europe, the Middle East, India, and Africa. It's a huge undertaking that will occupy the next several decades and leave the West in the dust unless the Atlanticists can stop it.

This is combination of Mackinder world island and Spyker's rimland military analysis that the West uses adapted to trade dominance.

andy blatchford said...

I was looking at it with my freight fowarder hat on Tom...geopolitics is a different story :)

Just for Matt though, freight rates are going through the roof, I haven't seen it this mad with space issues and amount of cargo since late 2007 early 2008, it is honestly manic. Make of those years what you want!!. I have no idea where it has come from and where it is going. I spent what most of last year complaining how depressed trade was, currently quite the opposite we are having problems moving stuff.
I have no import container prices but export from UK we have had a 200% increase in rates since January (my sea dept are getting offers for FCL on our LCL containers which get priority as no space for FCL and they are paying more than we would we normally get from LCL as trying to move stuff).

Tom Hickey said...

BTW, The US naturally dominates the Western Hemisphere. It should be doing what China is doing in the WH, or China will take it by default. But the US is still in the neoliberal, neo-imperial, neocolonial mindset and can't see it. I've been scratching my head over this for years. Dumb.