Greek port success gives snapshot of BRI potential

CECILY LIU in London
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily UK , 10 09, 2018

Direct train benefits French retailer

The Decathlon freight train transporting goods between China and France. [Photo provide to China Daily]

In 2017, the French sports retailer Decathlon started to transport products made in its factory in Wuhan to its warehouses in the North France region of Dourges by direct rail. The company said the option was "more economical, faster and more ecological" than shipping by sea.

The weekly 41-container Decathlon freight train allowed Decathlon's products to reach France in between 16 and 18 days, compared to the 20 days previously needed when transported by sea.

The time and money the company saved as a result boosted Decathlon's profitability, and prompted it to further invest in its Wuhan factory, and its supply-chain procurement from the cities near Wuhan grew by 15 percent.

"We have seen many European companies start or scale-up their manufacturing in Wuhan thanks to the logistics cost saving that can be achieved by direct freight trains, and Decathlon is one early example," said Deng Xinchen, of Wuhan Asia-Europe Logistics, which operates the Decathlon train.

Wuhan Asia-Europe Logistics started operating direct freight trains between China and Europe in 2016, when it spotted a business opportunity in the surging China-Europe trade.

Its trains have linked Wuhan with cities in Russia, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, and France and the trains allowed many European companies to expand new trade links, to areas that were previously impossible to reach because sea freight was too slow and air freight too expensive.

On average, rail links save 70 percent on costs compared to air freight, and transit times can be cut by as much as 50 percent in comparison to shipping by sea.

Wuhan Asia-Europe Logistics is one of several Chinese companies that began operating direct China-Europe trains in recent years. Industry estimates suggest that, by 2017, such trains already connected more than 30 Chinese cities with 12 European countries. In doing so, they have turned the vision of Belt and Road connectivity into profitability for many businesses in China and Europe.

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