A CONTAINER train arrived in Hamburg on the morning of January 24 after a 15-day, 9 954 km journey from Beijing through Mongolia, Russia, Belarus and Poland.

The train was a demonstration for the 'Eurasian Landbridge' proposed by the six national rail operators, which have agreed to develop a competitive alternative to sea and air freight between China and western Europe.

Container train
A Bombardier TRAXX F140 AC locomotive hauled the train into the Port of Hamburg (Photo: DB AG/Ralf Kranert)

'We want to demonstrate that we can get a train like this one to its destination fast, safely and reliably under real-life conditions', said DB Chairman Hartmut Mehdorn at the departure from Beijing.

Regular services could start within a year, and are expected to have a journey time of 15 to 18 days from China to Germany. This would be 'twice as fast as a sea-going vessel' and 'considerably cheaper' than air freight, according to DB Board Member Norbert Bensel, who cautioned that many issues still needed to be resolved, including accelerating customs formalities.

  • On January 11 DB and Indian Railways agreed to undertake feasibility studies for the development of multi-modal freight logistics facilities serving major population centres in India.