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All Aboard: Lenzing Makes its First Direct Train Shipment of Tencel Fibers to China

Due to a short-term increase in demand from Chinese customers, Lenzing AG has broken new ground, shipping goods that are 100 percent produced in Austria directly to China by train.

This follows recent developments by transportation specialists to increase intercontinental rail services between Europe and Asia.

Austria’s first complete train with goods exclusively “Made in Austria” left the Vienna South Terminal heading to China on Aug. 20 loaded with Lenzing fibers with a train provided by Nunner Logistics. The fibers came from Lenzing’s production sites in Lenzing and Heiligenkreuz.

The train brings 41 containers with Tencel-branded Lyocell and Modal fibers with a total value of 1.8 million euros ($2.13 million) directly to customers in China. On its 16-day trip to Shanghai, the train covers a total of 10,460 kilometers and passes seven countries: Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan and China.

“With this new transport route, we can meet the high demand from our customers for sustainably produced fibers more quickly,” Stefan Doboczky, CEO of the Lenzing Group, said. “Thanks to train transport, the urgently needed fibers arrive at our customers in China twice as quickly as by sea freight. Lenzing has had very good experiences with rail transport for a long time when it comes to delivering the renewable raw material wood to its plants. Almost 70 percent of the wood processed at the Lenzing site is already delivered by rail.

Doboczky said the company’s goal is to shift more freight traffic to rail.

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“Rail is the only way to combine climate goals and economic interests and thus transport growth,” Thomas Kargl, board member of the ÖBB Rail Cargo Group, said. “That is why we are happy to be part of this unique project for our long-standing customer. Transporting goods by rail to China is possible and this train from Vienna to China is an integral part of climate protection.”

For local brands and retailers in China, sourcing sustainable goods is becoming increasingly important, Lenzing noted. For this reason, many manufacturers rely on Tencel fibers, which contribute to a clean environment, thanks to the renewable raw material wood and the ecologically responsible production.

The Tencel-branded Lyocell and Modal fibers transported to China are used to create textiles for the fashion industry.

The company noted that the train transport connects Austria even more closely with China’s One Belt, One Road program, a reintroduction of the legendary Silk Road, which has been the main transit route between Europe and Asia since ancient times.

At the end of May, DHL Global Forwarding introduced two new block train connections from Germany to China. A new connection serving from the KTL terminal on the BASF site in Ludwigshafen travels via Poland, Belarus, Russia, and Kazakhstan to the destination terminal in Xi’an, the capital of the Chinese province Shaanxi. In addition, an express train connection has been deployed between Neuss and Xi’an via Kaliningrad, reducing the transit time to 12 days.

With these connections, DHL Global Forwarding’s rail network is further expanding and providing customers access to faster lead times to Asia covering both less-than-container-load (LCL) and full-container-load (FCL). The implementation of complete block train routes from Europe to China reflects the growing demand for imports and speed to deliver to Asian countries complementing DHL’s already existing block trains from Xi’an and Chengdu to Europe.

“In the last years, we observed an increasing demand for rail service products to and from China,” Thomas Kowitzki, head of Chinarail, multimodal at DHL Global Forwarding Europe, said. “Their cost-effectiveness, short transit time and lower CO2 emissions compared to other transport modes make them an attractive alternative.”

In April, Maersk launched its first rail service from Xi’an, China to Izmit, Turkey. This new route, which is part of Maersk Intercontinental Rail service network, will in addition to shorter transit time provide customers with wide network options connecting main locations in China and Turkey with diverse range of pre- and on-carriage services.