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This paper presents an overview of the recent development of Eurasian rail freight in the One Belt, One Road Era and further evaluates its service quality in terms of transit times and transport costs compared to other transport modes in containerised supply chains between Europe and China. A trade-off model of transit time and transport costs based on quantitative data from primary as well as secondary sources is developed to demonstrate the market niche for Eurasian rail freight vis-a-vis the more established modes of transport of sea, air, and sea/air. In a scenario analysis, further goods attributes influencing modal choice are employed to show for which cargo type Eurasian rail freight service is favourable.
According to our calculations, Eurasian rail freight is about 80% less expensive than air freight with only half of the transit time of conventional sea freight. Our scenario analysis further suggests that for shipping time sensitive goods with value ranging from 1.23 USD/kg to 10.89 USD/kg as well as goods with lower time sensitivity and value in a range of 2.46 USD/kg to 21.78 USD/kg, total logistics costs of Eurasian rail freight service beat all other modes of transport. Hence, Eurasian rail freight seems to be an option beneficial in terms of transport cost, transit time, reliability and service availability, which enables shippers to build up agile and sustainable supply chains between China and Europe.
Schramm, H-J., & Zhang, X. (2018). Eurasian Rail Freight in the One Belt One Road Era. In J. Stentoft (Ed.), 30th Annual NOFOMA Conference: Relevant Logistics and Supply Chain Management Research (pp. 769-798). Kolding: Syddansk Universitet. Institut for Entreprenørskab og Relationsledelse.