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BERLIN: September 08, 2016. Deutsche Bahn (DB) Cargo and the municipal government of Hefei, the capital of China's eastern province of Anhui, have agreed to operate a weekly train link between Hefei and Hamburg beginning in October.

Organized by Trans Eurasia Logistics, a joint venture between Deutsche Bahn and Russian Railways, the 10,600 kilometers, 15-day trip will route via Dostyk in Kazakhstan, Moscow and Warsaw.

"We are thrilled that we can continue to expand rail transport with Hefei along the traditional Silk Road route," said DB Cargo CEO Jürgen Wilder. "The constantly rising transport volumes of the trans-Eurasian land bridge demonstrate that railway has established itself as a competitive alternative to other modes of freight transport."

DB new route to ChinaHefei is a freight hub for customers from eastern and southern China. The local government says it wants the new rail link (right) to be its contribution to China's 'One Belt – One Road' project.

In a related move, Geodis, the logistics arm of French Railways, has completed its first train service from Wuhan in central China to Lyon, France on behalf of Marseille-based designer Kaporal.

According to Vincent Allal, Kaporal head of Supply Chain: "Rail transport is a real alternative to air travel that was previously considered. The transit is relatively short, we have halved our bill on this transaction and we are very sensitive to the low environmental impact of this solution."

The train routed via Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland and Germany before arriving in Venissieux-Saint-Priest near Lyon after traveling 11,300 kilometers in 18 days. Geodis says it plans to operate three trains a week between China and France for the retailer - distributing 10 million garments a year to its outlets throughout France.

"We successfully coped with a number of operational and technical challenges", explained Kim Pedersen, Geodis EVP for freight forwarding. "Twenty drivers were needed to operate the train on its way through seven countries. Locomotives had to be changed eight times and we had to manage three special transshipments at certain borders due to the different track gauge."

Pedersen added the rail link is an innovative alternative to ocean freight that is subject to "high volatility" in rates and takes twice as long.

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