Maersk launches its first China to Turkey rail freight service

Wed 6 May 2020
Posted by: Ana Pintor
Trade News

freight rail

Maersk has unveiled a China-to-Turkey rail freight service, with the automotive and technology sectors, a particular target for the operators. 


The move comes as air freight prices from China to Europe continue to rise alongside the growth in popularity of transporting goods by train.


The China Railway Group reported that in the first quarter of 2020, the number of freight trains travelling from or to China grew by 15% and 18% respectively, on the same period in 2019.


The new Maersk service, running once a week from Xi’an in China to the port of Izmit in Turkey, is part of the Maersk Intercontinental Rail (ICR) network.


ICR then provides links from Turkey to Eastern Europe, the Black Sea and southern European countries.


Kasper Krog, Head of Intercontinental Rail at AP Moller-Maersk, said that Izmit benefited from a strategic location, as well as a range of industries and improvements which have been made to Turkey’s rail infrastructure.

Air freight issues

In a recent IOE&IT webinar IOE&IT director of stakeholder engagement Kevin Shakespeare noted the growing appeal of train freight against a drop in air freight capacity and rise in its prices.

“High demand for time-sensitive imported goods to cope with the virus, have kept air prices high,” he said.

“In normal times, over half of the world’s air cargo travels by passenger jet, but with widespread cancellations of flights from China and Europe, this has resulted in a large drop in capacity,” Mr Shakespeare added.

He quoted figures from the authoritative TAC Index that the cost of air freight from Shanghai to Europe had risen to an index record of $8.93 per kg, up from $2.32 per kg at the beginning of March.