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The historic mail train arrived to Lithuania directly from China

As the coronavirus pandemic locked the entire world resulting in the disruption of many logistics chains, Lithuania is becoming a logistics hub connecting the Far East and Europe. On Saturday, April 11, for the first time in history, a train from China arrived in Europe with the freight consisting exclusively of mail, and it made a stop nowhere else but in Lithuania, at the Vilnius Intermodal Terminal. 42 mail containers that make up the train have delivered parcels intended not only for Lithuania but for Europe as a whole. They will be distributed throughout Europe by Lietuvos paštas, AB (Lithuanian Post).

"We started cooperation with China Post in the area of rail mail transport in July 2019 but the post volumes received were much lower. This cooperation project is gaining acceleration in the face of global quarantine and the consequent termination of many international postal processes; China Post is no longer sending single containers to Lithuania but an entire train. For the first time in history, an exclusively mail train from China to Europe is sent. The Lithuanian Post has a unique role to play, as we will be responsible for distributing the parcels delivered by this historic train throughout Europe. It is a great responsibility and a very high rating at the same time. In addition, it will fully contribute to the fulfillment of our mission as a post office, i.e. to send and receive conveniently. For all," says Asta Sungailienė, Director General of Lithuanian Post.

A train of 42 postal containers stopped at Vilnius Intermodal Terminal. More than 260 tons of mail from here will be distributed to 30 European countries. Most of the shipments will travel to Germany, Britain, France, Spain, and Hungary. Two separate mail containers will remain for Lithuanian users. Lithuanian Post will deliver parcels from Vilnius to other European post office operators so that they can deliver them to recipients in their countries. This activity will generate additional revenue not only for Lithuanian Post, but also for other companies in the logistics sector, including Lithuanian Railways and international freight carriers. Shipments to other countries are scheduled to start as early as Tuesday.

According to A. Sungailienė, more trains from China are expected in the nearest future.

The memorandum on enhanced cooperation between Lithuanian Post and China Post was signed between the Ministry of Transport of the Republic of Lithuania and the State Post Office of China back in April 2018. At that time, it was agreed on the development of a new route transporting mail by rail from Chongqing in China to Vilnius.

"The disrupted logistics chains have not disrupted the plans of Lithuanian Post and with this new route, in a particularly difficult period of the pandemic, we are heading towards closer cooperation in order to meet the expectations of consumers with assessment of not only the time or cost of delivery but also the environmental requirements. I am pleased to see that strategic companies in the transport sector have reached this new stage with joint efforts to achieve common objectives. I am certain that consumers will actively use the possibilities of e-commerce, so this mail cargo is just the beginning," says Jaroslav Narkevič, the Minister of Transport of the Republic of Lithuania.

To date, shipments from China were mostly reaching Europe by airmail, as this is the fastest way to deliver shipments from China. However, in view of toughening the safety requirement for the air transport, China Post has set to transport a significant proportion of e-commerce shipments by rail in order to reduce environmental pollution and transportation costs.

LG Cargo, a freight transportation company owned by the largest railway group in the Baltic States "Lietuvos geležinkeliai", is also contributing to the smooth cooperation between the Lithuanian and Chinese post offices.

"As the world faces the challenges of battling the virus and disrupted logistics chains, freight transportation by rail becomes a guarantee of reliability. During the pandemic, we are witnessing an increase in the need for intermodal freight transport, where several modes of transport are combined for the successful movement of freight. In this case, mail shipments that reach Lithuania in 9 days by rail will be reloaded in the advanced Vilnius Intermodal Terminal to be further distributed by road transport," said Egidijus Lazauskas, CEO of LG Cargo.

Updated on 2020-04-29