Rail freight: beauty packaging takes the Silk Route

It's quicker than sea and cheaper than air freight. Rail transportation is now becoming a viable option for the beauty packaging sector, offering a host of benefits to cosmetics companies. To trial the service, Quadpack's Supply Chain team has just successfully completed its first shipment via rail, on an inaugural journey along the old Silk Route.

"We understand that our clients want the best possible balance in terms of cost, speed and environmental impact. Rail freight enables us to offer a great alternative to our air, air/sea and sea freight services," said Supply Chain Director Alex San Miguel. "We sent a trial shipment from China to the UK, via Poland. Each leg of the journey was on schedule and it arrived at its destination on time."

Rail freight cuts transportation time by a third compared to ocean freight, while costing up to 60 per cent less than air freight, particularly for larger shipments. While trains have limited capacity, block booking guarantees a certain amount of space. What's more, rail transport is energy efficient and has a lesser carbon footprint than air.

The 'New Silk Route' between China and mainland Europe starts at Wuhan or Hefei and plots a course through Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus. The Chinese government is looking to expand rail connections to Europe and additional routes are expected to be introduced soon.

Further trials are scheduled before introducing rail freight as a standard delivery option.