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First China to Europe TIR truck secures trade flow in record time

China joined the TIR Convention earlier this year and the first TIR journey from China to Europe has just been completed, with a door-to-door cost and delivery time that are claimed to outperform air on price and rail on time taken 


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The first TIR truck transport from China to Europe started its journey technically (ie unique TIR declaration) at the Khorgos border, entering Kazakhstan and travelling through Russia and Belarus to Poland (around 4,600 kms). The total distance from China to Poland was 7,000 kms and the door-to-door trip was covered in 13 days, or around 560 kms per day.


This TIR transport initiative is a joint effort of IRU and logistics companies including CEVA Logistics, Shanghai Jet-rail International Transportation and Alblas International Logistics - the latter being the haulage operator. The truck left China on 13 November and arrived securely at its destination in Poland without any disruption or customs issues on 26 November.


IRU Secretary General Umberto de Pretto said the journey will be a game changer for cross-border road transport to and from China. “This first TIR journey by road from China to Europe is a win-win-win model for business, trade and governments.


"It is relative to other modes of transport on similar routes. It will boost trade between China and Europe, which will help China and the countries along the Belt & Road Initiative route reap the economic and development rewards of international road transport. It is also a wake-up call to European hauliers to seize the opportunity to benefit from round trip operations.”


CEVA Logistics Greater China EVP, Torben Bengtsson, said: “We can see a great future for road transport from China to Europe. The pilot shipment proves that it could save up to 50% door-to-door cost compared to air, and at least 10 days delivery time compared with rail.


“The market is eager for the new product. We many customers waiting for the start of a regular service. During the coming weeks we will prepare to start regular operations as early as possible in 2019.”

The Khorgos road border crossing was opened earlier this year
The Khorgos road border crossing was opened earlier this year

A key role was played by the Chinese branch office of Alblas in Ürümqi. Jan Alblas, CEO of Alblas (Netherlands), said that the first journey took years of preparation. Nobody can take away from Alblas the distinction of being the first company to conduct a TIR transport from China to Europe.


“Being the only European transport company in China with an international transport license, we are able to execute the entire transport door-to-door with our own transport equipment and our own drivers. We are pleased with the results from the test and see room for further optimisation in order to achieve the ideal transport time of 10 days from China to Europe.”


In September this year, Kazakhstan and China opened the new road border crossing at Khorgos, to complement the established rail gauge break cargo station, in a bid to provide a further boost to transport and trade along the new Western China to Western Europe 8,445 km expressway – part of China’s Belt and Road project.


The World Bank has forecast that the corridor will more than double road freight volumes between China and Europe. "With this first TIR transport, operations along this corridor are now ready to deliver economic and social benefits to the whole region," said the IRU.

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