May 17, 2020

China high-speed rail slows down

Supply Chain
High-speed rail
Chinese High-Speed Rail
Freddie Pierce
2 min
Concerns mount over high-speed rail safety after two Chinese bullet trains collided this weekend
A month after testing began on a new freight rail line that will link Europe to China, high-speed rail expansion in the Far East looks like it will be...

A month after testing began on a new freight rail line that will link Europe to China, high-speed rail expansion in the Far East looks like it will be slowing down for awhile.

In a story published by USA Today earlier this week, China may finally be bowing to critics of its high-speed rail system due to value and safety concerns.

China has built or renovated close to 300 stations for bullet trains that are capable of speeds upwards of 300 mph and is committed to doubling its world-leading high-speed rail track length by 2015.

Top speeds for these bullet trains were recently lowered from 216 mph to 186 mph due to safety concerns.

A decrease in speed is only part of the problem facing high-speed rail in China. According to railway economics expert Zhao Jian, high-speed rail does not make a lot of fiscal sense, either.

“High-speed rail costs three times as much as ordinary rail,” Jian told USA Today. “In no country worldwide has high-speed rail ever been profitable.”

So China has hit the proverbial brakes on high-speed rail expansion over the last three months. What’s ironic is that U.S. President Barack Obama thinks the United States needs to spend more on developing a network of high-speed rail lines, asking for $53 billion to make that dream a reality.


U.S. road and freight rail breaks all-time record

Long-term outlook for freight rail appears bright

U.S. high-speed rail comes to a screeching halt

Check out May’s issue of Supply Chain Digital!

The reality of U.S. high-speed rail looks to still be a pipe dream. While bullet trains sound good on paper, some Chinese citizens think rail development should go a more traditional route.

“China has so much high-speed rail because in China the government decides, so from the railway ministry down to local government these are ‘face’ projects that cause high levels of debt,” Jian said. “China needs more ordinary railway, not high-speed tracks.”

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Jun 8, 2021

DHL Claim Multi-Sector Collaboration Key to Fighting COVID

3 min
Global logistics leader DHL’s new white paper highlights what supply chain professionals have learned one year into the pandemic

Since January, global logistics leader DHL has distributed more than 200 million doses of the COVID vaccine to 120+ countries around the globe. While the US and UK recently rolled out immunisation plans to most citizens, countries with less developed infrastructure still desperately need more doses. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which currently has one of the highest per-capita immunisation rates, the government set up storage facilities to cover domestic and international demand. But storage, as we’ve learned, is little help if you can’t transport the goods.


This is where logistics leaders such as DHL make their impact. The company built over 50 new partnerships, bilateral and multilateral, to collaborate with pharmaceutical and private sector firms. With more than 350 DHL centres pressed into service, the group operated 9,000+ flights to ship the vaccine where it needed to go. 


Public-Private Partnerships

With new pandemic knowledge, DHL just released its “Revisiting Pandemic Resilience” white paper, which examined the role of logistics and supply chain companies in handling COVID-19. As Thomas Ellman, Head of Clinical Trials Logistics at DHL, said: “The past one year has highlighted the importance of logistics and supply chain management to manage the pandemic, ensure business continuity and protect public health. It has also shown us that together we are stronger”. 


Multisector partnerships, DHL said, enabled rapid, effective vaccine distribution. While international scientists developed a vaccine in record time—five times faster than any other vaccine in history—manufacturers ramped up production and logistics teams rolled out distribution three times faster than expected. When commercial routes faced backups, logistics operators worked with military officers to transport vaccines via helicopters and boats. 


In the UAE, the public-private HOPE Consortium distributed billions of COVID-19 doses to its civilians as well as other countries in need by partnering with commercial organisations such as DHL. For the first time, apropo for an unprecedented pandemic, logistics companies made strong connections with public health and government.


“While the race against the virus continues, leveraging the power of such collaborations and data analytics will be key”, said Katja Busch, Chief Commercial Officer DHL and Head of DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation. “We need to remain prepared for high patient and vaccine volumes, maintain logistics infrastructure and capacity, while planning for seasonal fluctuations by providing a stable and well-equipped platform for the years to come”. 


How Do We Sustain Immunisation? 

By the end of 2021, experts estimate that we need approximately 10 billion doses of vaccines—many of which will be shipped to areas of the world, such as India, South Africa, and Brazil, that lack significant infrastructure. This is perhaps the greatest divide between countries that have rolled out successful immunisation programmes and those that have not. As Busch noted, “the UAE’s significant investments in creating robust air, sea, and land infrastructure facilitated logistics and vaccine distribution, helping us keep supply chains resilient”. 


Neither is the novel coronavirus a one-time affair. If predictions hold, COVID will be similar to seasonal colds or the flu: here to stay. When fall comes around each year, governments will need to vaccinate the world as quickly as possible to ensure long-term immunisation against the virus. This time, logistics companies must be better prepared. 

Yet global immunisation, year after year, is no small order. To keep reinfection rates low and slow the spread of COVID, governments will likely need 7-9 billion annual doses of the vaccine to meet that mark. And if DHL’s white paper is any judge of success, multi-sector supply chain partnerships will set the gold standard.

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