A Silkrailroad, Made For Cars

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
a silkrailroad made for cars

If and when China’s car export machine ever gets going in earnest, the city of Chongqing in Western China could become one of its main export hubs. Chongqing is not a sea port. It is the far eastern terminus of a 7,000 mile railroad line that connects Chongqing with Duisburg in Germany.

Currently, the train brings auto parts to China. “A freight train carrying 41 containers full of autoparts arrived in Chongqing in mid-March, sent by U.S. automaker Ford Motor Co. and marking the first direct shipment from Germany by rail,” writes The Nikkei [sub]. BMW, “has been shipping parts mainly by rail, rather than by sea, since its second plant began operating in May last year,” says the Tokyo paper. When trains go from China to Germany, they currently bring mostly notebooks. A freight train can carry about 80,000 units.

By boat to China, the trip would take between 50-60 days, all told, says the paper. By train, it takes two weeks. Railways costs are 70-80 percent higher than sea freight, but time is money. There are plans in China to connect to Europe via high speed rail. This would cut the time down to two days.

The transcontinental rail freight service was launched in 2011 on an experimental basis. Now, one train loaded with 40 containers leaves Germany for China every day.

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  • Adrian Roman Adrian Roman on Jun 12, 2013

    On the other hand, the train in the picture is a stock photo - it hauls fuel from Russia to China, not freight cars/containers. So the engine might not be the same as for a German parts train.

  • Kitzler Kitzler on Jun 12, 2013

    RPOL, thank you, that was one of the most lucid and informative comment I have read in a long time, methink though that zee Germans will quickly design a new Lok (locomotive) capable of hauling efficiently at speeds above 79 mph. The competition of Panamex should spur that.

  • Analoggrotto Too much of the exterior is shared with the Grand Highlander. Toyota/Lexus is clearly over extended here as this was rushed in direct response to the Kia Telluride which has decimated RX sales. Lexus was not such a major offender of just changing the front and rear end caps on a lesser Toyota model (this worked for LX / Land Cruiser as the latter is already expensive) but for such a mass market vehicle, buyers will notice and may just go to Toyota (or Kia) for their big SUV.
  • Crtfour I'm a BOF SUV fan. In my opinion it's certainly not a looker (but what is these days). But it does look the part and should be great off road. Plus kudos to Toyota for retaining actual shift levers. So I give it a thumbs up.
  • Theflyersfan UX Hybrid, NX, NX Hybrid, NX Plug-In Hybrid EV, RZ, RX, RX Hybrid, RX 500h, GX, LX, and now the TX. (source: the bloated section of the Lexus SUV site) It's looking like the Taco Bell menu over there - the same dozen ingredients mixed around to make a lineup. I'm waiting for something like the WX to compete with the Chevy Trax and maybe the LXXXL to compete with the Hummer EV and maybe a four row crossover in 2025 and a lower-cased line like the rx or nx to compete with the German CUV-"coupes" and their slashed tops and cargo areas. C'mon Lexus, there are more micro-niches to be filled! Gather your boardroom committees together and come up with another plan! And careless parent alert: shouldn't that kid be in a booster seat? I mean in my age, we sat in the way back of station wagons on the flat floor and bounced around with every curve, but these days you gotta deck your kid out in 50 pounds of pads and bubble wrap before they leave the driveway, so get that child seat in the way back right now!
  • 28-Cars-Later Nice minivan, just add the sliding doors and quit living in denial.
  • Zerofoo You will own nothing....