First freight trains transported on High Speed 1
A milestone in European freight rail was reached last Saturday, as the first European-sized freight trains were transported on England’s High Speed 1 railway line.
The High Speed 1 line runs from London through Kent to the British end of the Channel Tunnel that connects the UK and France, and allows speeds of 230 to 300 kilometers per hour (143 to 186 miles per hour).
Two trains from Spanish logistics operator Transfesa, part of DB Schenker Rail, and four European-sized trains were successfully transported over the High Speed 1 rail line. The successful operation allows DB Schenker Rail to connect the UK with the High Speed 1 rail route to the rest of the European freight rail network, opening up a new market for customers.
“The rail freight serves is a historic milestone for European rail freight,” DB Schenker Rail (UK) CEO Alain Thauvette said. “For the first time ever, the larger swap bodies as used as standard across mainland Europe were transported to London in a fault-free operation. The UK is now connected to the larger freight railway used across Europe.”
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Part of the High Speed 1 line was completed in 2003, with additional track on the high-speed line being complete in 2007. Thauvette said DB Schenker Rail had been conducting trial operations for close to six months.
“We will now deliver larger freight trains travelling from anywhere across Europe on the DB Schenker Rail pan-European network to London,” Thauvette said. “This will increase modal shift (from) road to rail across Europe.”
Cainiao Network Launches Customer-Centric Logistics
As the logistics division of the Alibaba Group, Cainiao Smart Logistics Network has decided to provide its Southeast Asian customers with unsurpassed service during its annual shopping festival. Based on customer feedback surveys, the company will expand its real-time customer service support and speed up delivery times. ‘By expanding and deepening our services, we aim to provide a stronger logistics infrastructure that can bolster the booming eCommerce sector, support merchants’ expansion into new markets and diversify retail options for consumers’, said Chris Fan, Head of Cross-Border, Singapore, Cainiao Network.
Who Is Cainiao?
According to TIME Magazine, Cainiao ‘is far from a typical logistics firm’. The company controls an open platform that allows it to collaborate with 3,000 logistics partners and 3 million couriers. This means that merchants can choose the least expensive and most efficient shipping options, based on Cainiao’s real-time logistics analytics. The company’s goal is to ship packages anywhere in the world in under 72 hours—and for less than US$3.00.
For countless small business owners around the world, from coffee-growers to textile-weavers, this could change everything. Usually, it costs about US$100 to ship a DHL envelope from Shanghai to London in five days. Cainiao aims to change that. Said its CEO Wan Lin: ‘The biggest barrier to globalisation is logistics’.
What’s Part of the Upgrade?
Throughout the Tmall festival, Cainiao’s logistics upgrade will be divided into four critical segments:
- Real-time customer service support. Cainiao has launched a direct WhatsApp channel for customers to receive logistics updates and ask questions.
- Expansion of air freight parcel size and weight limits. Packages can now be up to 30 kilograms or 1-metre x 1.6 meters to help ship large items such as furniture.
- Daily air and sea freight connections. Shipping frequency will almost double to seven times weekly to maintain resilience and efficiency.
- Compensation for lost or damaged packages. Customers will be reimbursed up to RMB 2,000 (US$311).
Where is the Company Headed?
From June 1st to June 20th, the finale of Tmall, Cainiao will ensure that its customers feel confident in the company’s ability to deliver their packages. Despite global shipping delays due to COVID, the show will go on. Said Fan: ‘This series of customer-centric logistics upgrades reaffirms our goal of pursuing value-added services to enhance customers’ shopping experience while mitigating challenges posed by external factors’.
Furthermore, Cainiao has recently expanded its Southeast Asian operations, achieving revenue growth of 68% year-over-year. In Malaysia, the logistics operation has partnered with BEST Inc. and Yunda; in Singapore, the company has partnered with Roadbull, Park & Parcel, and the Singapore Post. And if its recent measures help retain and grow its customer base, the company will be well-poised to lead the industry in resilient and customer-centric global logistics. ‘COVID-19 made everyone realise how important the logistics infrastructure backbone is’, said Wan. ‘And it gave us a peek at what Cainiao should look like in three years’.