Rail transport alternative: Schweizerzug and RTSB connect Switzerland and China
Beginning April 1st, 2020, Schweizerzug and RTSB will connect Switzerland and China by rail once a week. This offer for maritime containers on the iron silk road includes Frenkendorf near Basel and Niederglatt near Zurich and serves both Xian in the Shaanxi province and Hefei in the Anhui province. The new service offers a fast and reliable alternative to ocean and air freight, which are both currently severely restricted due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
To carry out this service offer, Schweizerzug AG, based in Frenkendorf, and RTSB Schweiz AG, headquartered in Gams, formed a joint venture. Schweizerzug AG is a Swiss service provider for intermodal container transport by rail, and RTSB Schweiz AG belongs to the international RTSB group, a transport company focused on transmodal connections between Europe and the CIS, Mongolia and China.
The transit time for this new connection between Switzerland and China is approximately 15 days to Xian and 18 days to Hefei. Compared to sea transport on the Rotterdam – Shanghai route, the new product from Schweizerzug and RTSB is about twice as fast.
Schweizerzug offers this service as well as its portfolio of existing connections via the German hub in Neuss. In Neuss, RTSB takes over as the responsible rail transport company to Xian and Hefei. Bogie exchange takes place between Poland and Belarus as well as Kazakhstan and China. Among others, the following industrial centers can be reached via Xian and Hefei: Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Wenzhou, Taizhou, Ningbo, Nantong, Changzhou, Nanjing, Jining, Linyi and Qingdao. Customers benefit from complete door-to-door connections in both China and Switzerland. Additionally, an efficient customs system ensures transportation without additional waiting times at the respective border stations.
As an alternative concept for transport between east and west, the train is at the center of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and Switzerland is interested in continuing to develop an even closer connection with China. In spring 2019, Swiss President Ueli Maurer and Chinese President Xi Jingping signed a letter of intent, which, among other things, focused on cooperation in the economic sector.
As early as 2014, Switzerland developed a free trade agreement with China as well as a plan to gradually reduce Chinese import duties until 2023, making it the first continental European company to enter into such an arrangement. By 2018, Swiss companies increased their exports to China by around 30 percent, while imports from China increased by six percent. The People’s Republic is now the third most important trading partner for Switzerland after the EU and the USA.
“With our new rail link between China and Switzerland, we are providing the market a reliable alternative for urgent or valuable cargo. Due to the corona outbreak, many economic players fear supply shortages in the coming weeks. We are offering solutions,” explains Roman Mayer, CEO Schweizerzug. He adds: “Our goal is to offer our customers a comprehensive and reliable range, and our new product on the iron silk road is an excellent addition to our portfolio of regular connections via the German hub at Neuss to Europe’s largest seaports.”