Trans Eurasia Logistics (TEL), a joint venture between DB Schenker Rail and Russian Railways (RZD), has started rail shipments of vehicles from the inland port of Duisburg in Germany, to Chongqing in China.

German carmakers, including BMW, Mercedes-Benz and VW, are participating in the first trial run on what is being called the Yuxinou train.

The vehicles are loaded into containers at Duisburg Intermodal Terminal, which is run by Duisburger Hafen. Each train is carrying an average of 82 vehicles in 41 containers. One train loaded with vehicles is leaving per week at the moment, though four trains run from the Duisburg terminal to China over that period carrying other freight confirmed a spokesperson from DB Schenker.

"I can confirm that Daimler is participating in a test run of a direct train between Duisburg, Germany, and Chongqing, China," said a spokesperson for the carmaker. "At present, our participation in this project is exclusively focused on the ongoing test run. Out of a total transportation volume of 80 vehicles from several German OEMs in this test run, our share is 20."

The journey time to Chongqing is expected to be around 17 days, roughly half the time it takes for ocean shipments. On the return leg the containers will be used to carry electronics and IT equipment, according to Duisburger Hafen.

As well as the rail service TEL is also responsible for local services at the terminal, including putting the vehicles in the containers. According to a statement from Duisburger Hafen, close cooperation between the Duisport and TEL has improved capacity utilisation on the outward journey to China.

The commencement of the service follows a visit to Duisburg earlier in March this year of China’s president Xi Jinpeng and the minister of trade, Gao Hucheng. President Xi is reported to have expressed an interest in an increase of exports between Germany and China during that visit.

Back in July this year TEL started a weekly container service between Duisburg and Moscow.