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Published: 3 December 2017      

Lombardy-Chengdu block train

The first train leaving Polo Logistico Intermodale Mortara
A container block train has been dispatched from the intermodal logistics hub in Mortara, near Milan, for Chengdu in Sichuan Province in Central China

The first train, hauled by Captrain (SNCF), departed last week from Polo Logistico Intermodale in Mortara, Lombardy, organised by this operator in association with Chinese automotive logistics specialist Changjiu Logistics Corporation, in line with a service plan first announced in June this year.

The launch train is made up of 17 40ft twin cars (34 FEU) and was filled 50% by CMA CGM and 50% by customers of Changjiu Logistics. The cargo was made up of machinery and equipment, furniture, fashion goods, foodstuffs, wine, tiles, automotive components and automobiles.

The line of route is via the Polish/Belarus gauge break, and across Russia and Kazakhstan to the Dostyk gauge break into China. Schedled transit time on the 10,800 km route is 18 days compared to 40-45 days by sea, including overland from the Chinese port of entry to Chengdu, a city with 14M inhabitants.

From January 2018 there will be two weekly trains, but it is hope to increase frequency to three if DHL adds traffic. The ambitious goal is to be operating 20 trains per week by 2020.

Rail traction is the responsibility of CDIRS Chengdu International Railway Services Co Ltd, in cooperation with rail companies along the line of route.

Changjiu Logistics is a leading logistic services provider for the Chinese automobile industry and is part of Changjiu Group, a Shanghai Bourse-listed company.

Polo Logistico Integrata in Mortara boasts 180,000 m2 of storage and distribution warehousing and an intemrodal rail terminal handling 6-8 train pairs/day (70-80,000 TEU/year), to/from Rotterdam (Shuttlewise), Krefeld (Duisburg) and Gent.

The terminal is operated by Polo affiliate T.I.MO. Terminal Intermodale Mortara Srl. The 110,000 m2 terminal has seven 650-700m tracks, four of which are electrified, and has a capacity for nine train pairs/day or 150,000 TEU/year.

  • Two new twice weekly intermodal rail services have been introduced by Cemat between Voltri Pra container terminal (formerly known as VTE Voltri Terminal Europa) in the Port of Genoa and Milan intermodal terminal Milano Smistamento. The latter is operated by Mercitalia Terminal. Both Cemat and Mercitalia Terminal are part of Mercitalia Logistics (FS Ferrovie dello Stato). The trains are 440m long with 22 twin cars, including four low bed cars for 9ft 6in high cube containers. Allowable trailing weights are 1,300t for exports and 1,000t for imports. At Milan Smistemento steel wheel transfers can be provided for trains to southern Italy (Bari, Pomezia, Marcianise, Catania) or transalpine destinations (Paris-Valenton, Lille-Dourges, Munich and Duisburg). 
  • The first container block train from China to France arrived in Lille-Dourges trimodal terminal in north east France on 16th November. The train, organised by Damco France on behalf of Maersk Line, left Wuhan in Hubei Province on 20th October, so it covered the 10,815 kms in 20 days. The anchor cargo in the containers was sports wear for Decathlon Kasper Krog, head of DAMCO Rail, said, “We are pleased that we have been able to put together this solution for Decathlon and in fact the wider market that has produced immediate benefits on a logistics and economic level.” One objective of the DAMCO block train was to ensure that the service can help business stay ahead of and meet the demands of the supply chain. The train was followed by GPS tracking system and customers were given daily reports on status. It is touted as providing a cost-effective and environment-friendly alternative to air cargo shipments.

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