No BRI, no problem: Italy just got a new connection to China

Despite Italy likely leaving the Belt and Road Initiative, rail freight services to China are on the rise. The Italian Society for Import and Export (SIIE), deployed its first blocktrain from Milan, in northern Italy, to Chengdu, in the heart of China. As Landry Fotso, COO of SIIE told, this is the first time the company is offering such a service without the help of third parties.

The first train left at the end of last week, and another departure is already scheduled for 29 July. “We are ready to make it a regular service, perhaps with a monthly frequency or even higher, if our customers need it”, Fotso pointed out adding that SIIE can also offer services for westbound trains from Chengdu to Milan. Each convoy can transport 41 40-foot containers for a total of 81 TEUs.

Other than SIIE’s new China-Italy service, other ones have been introduced over the past few months. For example, Hupac launched a service between Milan and Suzhou, 100 kilometres west of Shanghai, back in November. Moreover, another service connecting the port of La Spezia, in the Italian northwest, with the Rail Hub Melzo (RHM) was inaugurated in January to boost trade between the Italian port and China via rail.

Image: LinkedIn. © Landry Fotso

‘Competitive transit time will depend on congestions’

The departure point of the train is the RHM, 20 kilometres east of Milan. Here, SIIE is collaborating with Oceanogate, a subsidiary of Contship, which will take care of operations in the RHM terminal. From there, the train will travel to the Małaszewicze border crossing, and then reach Chengdu via Minsk and Alashankou.

Transit time between Milan and Chengdu, as Fotso added, revolves around 28 days. “However, if congestions are not too problematic, we can deliver the cargo in roughly 20 days”, he claimed. The service is suitable for most cargo, including furniture and general cargo, except for dangerous goods.

The Italian Society for Import Export

SIIE was established in 2013 to strengthen the links between China and Europe. It offers connections with Budapest from Milan, Trieste, and Koper, and via Budapest to other terminals in Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland. Siiesiie offers rail freight services between China and Europe with transit times revolving around 20 to 25 days. The company works with various ports and terminals throughout Europe.

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Autor/a Marco Raimondi