May 17, 2020

New freight rail line links Europe to China

Freight rail
China rail
Freddie Pierce
2 min
Freight rail line will connect Antwerp in Belgium to Chongqing in China
A new era in freight rail was launched earlier this week. On Monday, the first freight rail train left the Port of Antwerp in Belgium en route to its d...

A new era in freight rail was launched earlier this week.

On Monday, the first freight rail train left the Port of Antwerp in Belgium en route to its destination to the city of Chongqing in central China.

This much-anticipated freight rail connection links Western Europe with China as well as connecting the Ukraine and Russia in the process.

The new route will begin running one train per day at first on the 10,000 mile trip, which will initially take between 20-25 days to complete. Once operations are running more smoothly, the hope is the Antwerp-Chongqing route can be completed by a freight rail train in 15-20 days.


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There is some fear among sea freight companies that the new route will take away from sea shipments to China, but one official thinks that won’t be the case.

“The Port of Antwerp (has positioned) itself as the hub for Europe,” Mark Van Peel, President of Antwerp Port Authority, told the Handy Shipping Guide. “The rail connection will be complementary to maritime flows, and in this way (should) generate extra maritime traffic.”

Part of the reason for Van Peel’s conclusion lies in the fact that Chongqing is located 1,000 miles inland. Sea freight companies looking to ship to large Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Hong Kong and Guangzhou shouldn’t see their operations disrupted by the new freight rail link.

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Jun 21, 2021

Elon Musk's Boring Co. planning wider tunnels for freight

2 min
Elon Musk’s tunnelling firm plans underground freight tunnels with shipping containers moved on “battery-powered freight carriers”, according to reports

Elon Musk’s drilling outfit The Boring Company could be shifting its focus towards subterranean freight and logistics solutions, according to reports. 

A Boring Co. pitch deck seen and shared by Bloomberg depicts plans to construct wider tunnels designed to accommodate shipping containers. 

Founded by Tesla CEO Musk in 2016, the company initially stated its mission was to offer safer, faster point-to-point transport for people, particularly in cities plagued by traffic congestion. It also planned longer tunnels to ferry passengers between popular destinations across the US. 

The Boring Co. completed its first commercial project earlier this year in April. The 1.7m tunnel system is designed to move professionals between convention centres in Las Vegas using Tesla EVs. It says the Las Vegas Convention Centre Loop can cut travel time between venues from 45 minutes to just two. 


Boring Co.'s new freight tunnels

The Boring Co.'s new tunnel designs would allow freight to be transported on purpose built platforms, labelled as “battery-powered freight carriers”. The document shows that, though the containers could technically fit within its current 12-foot tunnels, wider tunnels would be more efficient. Designs for a new tunnel, 21 feet in diameter, show that they can comfortably accommodate two containers side-by-side, with a one-foot gap between them.

The Boring Co.’s new drilling machine, dubbed Prufrock, can tunnel at a rate of one mile per week, which is six times faster than its previous machine, and is designed to ‘porpoise’ - mimicking the marine animal by ‘diving’ below ground and reemerging once the tunnel is complete. 

Tesla’s supply chain woes 

Tesla is facing its own supply chain and logistic issues. The EV manufacturer has raised the price of its vehicles, with CEO Musk confirming the incremental hike was a result of “major supply chain pressure”. Musk replied to a disgruntled Twitter user, confused as to why prices were rising while features were being removed from the cars, saying the “raw materials especially” were a big issue. 

Elon Musk Tweet

Car manufacturing continues to be one of the industries hit hardest by a global shortage in semiconductor chips. While China’s chip manufacturing levels hit an all-time high in May, and the US is proposing a 25% tax credit for chip manufacturers, demand still outstrips supply. Automakers including Volkswagen and Audi have again said they expect reduced vehicle output in the next quarter due to a lack of semiconductors, with more factory downtime likely

Top Image credit: The Boring Company / @boringcompany

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