Customers of a. hartrodt do not have to put up with the increasing disruptions in sea freight between China and Europe. As a new alternative, the freight forwarder offers rail transport via the Middle Corridor. This route goes via Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan and then divides in Georgia. "The overland route via Kars already runs on European gauge through Turkey to Europe," explains Florian Woebb, Head of the Logistics Services Department at a. hartrodt Germany in Hamburg. The option from Poti across the Black Sea to the Romanian port of Constanța is currently less reliable because of the war in Ukraine, he says.
According to Florian Woebb, there are "more and more services" on the Middle Corridor from an increasing number of service providers. National railroads and ports cooperate in the association "Trans-Caspian International Transport Route" (TITR). In 2021, according to TITR, 25,200 TEUs were transported on the Middle Corridor, 20 percent more than the previous year. In 2022, transport volumes are expected to increase by a factor of six. "In future, we see capacity strengthening," believes Florian Woebb.
"Significantly shorter than by seagoing vessel"
"On the Middle Corridor, we offer departures from Xi'an at least every ten days," says John Boelts, Managing Director at a. hartrodt Czech Republic in Prague. For automotive customers in particular, the new alternative means "calculatory security". John Boelts puts the transit time from Xi'an to Duisburg at the moment at approximately 40 days: "That is significantly shorter than by seagoing vessel, which currently takes about 60 days from Shanghai to the north-range ports." Rail customers in particular from countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary have been avoiding the Northern Route through Russia since the war in Ukraine. According to John Boelts, the line through Turkey also offers "better tracking options" for shipments.
In addition to less than container loads (LCL), wherein John Boelts sees the greatest potential of the Middle Corridor, the teams of a. hartrodt naturally also book there full container loads (FCL). "We create security and trust – the customer decides," is how Florian Woebb sums up the new offer.