The strategic project of the New Silk Road is of particular importance to ÖBB. With the first direct freight train from China to Vienna, Rail Cargo Group (RCG) – ÖBB’s freight division – successfully launched its next train connection between Asia and Europe. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has now been signed between Rail Cargo Group and DHL Global Forwarding with the aim of establishing regular connections along the Eurasian corridor.
The New Silk Road consists of three routes: an already existing Northern land link through the Central Asian states via Moscow and a Southern land link via Iran and Turkey to Europe. There is also a sea connection via the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea to the European Mediterranean ports. The scale of the project is impressive: 65 countries with a population of 4.4 billion people are located in the catchment area of the New Silk Road. Figures of up to 1.3 trillion dollars are cited as the investment volume.
The New Silk Road holds enormous potential for Austria’s industry and direct access to a rapidly growing market. A major advantage for rail transport is that it is environmentally friendly, cheaper than air freight and faster than sea freight. DHL and RCG have already handled the first direct train from China to Austria. With the intensified cooperation, new connections between Europe and Asia will be implemented. A Memorandum of Understanding has now been signed between Thomas Kargl, Board Member for Sales of Rail Cargo Group, and Steve Huang, CEO, DHL Global Forwarding Greater China.
“Trade between China and Austria is booming. This makes it all the more important that we offer our customers attractive connections and a strong network. With the MoU and their collaboration, RCG and DHL are sending a clear signal. Together we are bundling our knowhow and network,” explains RCG Board Member Thomas Kargl.
The aim of the cooperation is to expand rail transports on the Eurasian land bridge through the six countries of China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine, Slovakia and Austria. This includes the increase in freight transport capacity and the sustainable establishment of alternative routes to the existing China-Europe connections. The current transit time is 12 to 14 days; the aim is to reduce the transport time to around 10 days until the year 2020. Customers benefit from RCG’s high-quality network in Europe and its expertise on the Transkazakh Silk Road routes, combined with DHL Global Forwarding’s international forwarding services.
“This key partnership comes in the wake of Austria’s Economy Minister having signed 30 business deals worth USD1.9 billion with Chinese companies last month. The MOU combines RCG’s deep expertise in regional rail infrastructure with DHL’s end-to-end forwarding capabilities and one of the world’s broadest multimodal networks, giving customers in Europe and China a potent new alternative to tap into the opportunities heralded by the Belt and Road,” explains Steve Huang.
It was no coincidence that the Chinese province was selected as the starting point for future transport operations. With an intended increase of one trillion yuan by 2022, especially in the biomedical, automotive, intelligent manufacturing and e-commerce sectors, the region has immense potential for high-end exports between China and Austria.
“The Chinese market is particularly attractive for us and Vienna is an important hub for transport operations to and from China. Starting from the Vienna South Freight Centre, the goods are distributed throughout Europe – between the North Sea, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. In return, we offer customers from European industry a direct line to Asia with our shuttle services,” says Kargl.