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EFL International is to offer an ultra-long haul intermodal rail service from China to Ireland.

The service will operate weekly from a wide range of Chinese cities to Tilburg, in the Netherlands, where it will connect with EFL’s regular service to its depot in Dublin, for deliveries throughout the island of Ireland.

It will be aimed mainly at the less-than-container load (LCL) market, although full containerloads will also be catered for. LCL containers will be consolidated in Chengdu, deconsolidated in Tilburg and reconsolidated there into Ireland-bound boxes.

Shipments will arrive at the forwarder’s Temporary Storage Facility (TSF) bonded area for customs clearance by EFL, which is an accredited Authorised Economic Operator (AEO).

Door-to-door transit time from China through to final destination in Ireland will be around 30 days, says EFL International Director, Chris Radley. He explains: “Transit times are faster than by sea, which takes 48-50 days and, moreover, shipping services have been affected by the numerous service cancellations by shipping lines since the start of the Covid crisis.

“It is also significantly cheaper than airfreight. Air cargo rates increased massively during the PPE surge at the start of the crisis and have still not yet returned to normal levels. The rail service is an effective alternative.”

The new service is expected to handle a wide variety of commodities including wearing apparel and machinery.

At the time of writing, our service is the only rail option to be offered as a stand-alone service by an Irish forwarder. The alternatives are interlinked with China-UK services, and might suffer complications after the end of the Brexit Transition Period at the end of the year.

EFL has represented the Hong Kong-based U-Freight Group in Ireland for over three decades and is also a member of the EGLN global forwarding networks.