“Thirty six trains a week travel from Hamburg
to China. We’ve long been a part of these politics.” “We can see a lot of potential here.” “Chinese interests play a central role here.” “The investment plan of the Chinese government
is greater than the Marshall Plan after World War Two.” It’s the largest construction project ever. It will change enormous sectors of the transport
and logistics industry. It will have an impact on the economy, even on political power structures: The New Silk Road. „The New Silk Road offers logistics providers
opportunities, also for the logistics of industrial companies. Because here with a land connection by rail
is an alternative to air freight that needs five days to ocean freight that needs six
weeks. Rail freight needs 15 days. It can be 12 days. The advantages can already be seen: at Duisburg
harbour, 50 trains a week arrive.” With an investment volume of roughly one billion
Euros China’s mammoth project has stirred up the world of logistics. It’s uncertain how European companies will
collaborate in the One-Belt, One-Road initiative. But with the right strategies there are opportunities
to be part of the developments. “Globally, we need many cooperation partners. For example, in Germany we already have many partners. That’s neccessary. We couldn’t achieve so much alone.“ Deutsche Bahn already has a number of partners
in China and has successfully developed it´s connections with Eurasian countries. Looking at business prospects, the trend is
clear. „We’ve continuously increased business along
the Eurasian corridor. To name a figure, last year we transported
85,000 standard containers. And we aim to transport 100,000 containers
by 2020.“ Medium-sized transport and logistics companies
have profited for years on the new routes. The air and sea-freight expert, Bolloré has
realigned its offers due to the increased demand. Rail transport is an inherent part of the
portfolio. The Dutch logistic group GVT has opened a
Dutch pavillion in Chengdu. Apart from the transport of goods to Europe,
the Netherlands is now exporting goods from the Benelux to China. Senator International has also been concentrating
on rail travel. The Hamburg company has established the product
Asia Rail Bridge. Logistics giant DHL sees greater prospects
in rail connections between Europe and Asia. Apart from opening new markets freight should
be more sustainable. “Customers profit from shorter journeys,
compared to ocean freight and lower costs, compared to air freight. But we see further prospects with rail transport. We can reach new markets, we can open up for
countries like Japan and South Korea, we can reach our climate protection aims because
transport by rail is more climate friendly.” Mostly European ports profit by the increase
in ocean container freight. Piraeus, Rotterdam, Duisburg or Hamburg are
all enormous transhipment points. Not just because of the ships but because
containers from China arrive here daily. „It’s a chance to try out new means of logistics,
for example by stabilizing transport operations. But the conditions have to be right“. The New Silk Road is anything but a sure-fire
success. On the Chinese side national interests are
most important. A European aim will be to work together on
an equal basis. “Partnerships must be on an equal footing
because anything else is not in our interests. That’s why it’s very significant that the
German government and also the European Union has made it clear that there must be equal
conditions. That means, when China wants to invest in
Europe, European companies must be able to invest in China.” Europe has a backlog that has to be politically
regulated in parts. But also it’s important that companies optimize
their networks. For example: „The distance from Shanghai to Hamburg is
about 12,000 kilometres. The distance from Shanghai to Brest, the point
where the railroad enters Europe, is about 10,000 kilometres. Chinese Rail needs roughly ten days for this. For the following kilometres, the 2,500 from
Brest to Hamburg, we Europeans need seven days. So you see that we Europeans want to be part
of this project but we have to get more involved so the infrastructure continues to be developed.“ Increased goods flows need new global networks. Challenges and chances – the New Silk Road
offers both. „I would call this trade fair a meeting
place for the heroes of the branch. For a couple of days we can meet new people
and socialise. It’s highly effective and the success is great.“ At the transport logistic the partners of
tomorrow can meet.