Newsletter 09/2023: Actual situation in international transport
For those who use air freight, or are considering it for some shipments, the current summer season is a time of tariff harvest. Rates are as low as they have been in a long time. This applies to most export connections, where we will calculate a bespoke price for each shipment. The same can be said for import shipments from major air hubs (e.g. Shanghai, Shenzen, Taipei, Seoul, but also Mexico City or Chicago). And for dangerous goods in particular, air is more flexible because transporting dangerous goods in sea collection containers is complicated (each collection container may only contain permitted combinations and quantities of dangerous goods).
Rail transport from China
The rail situation is stable and we have not experienced any problems that would significantly disrupt service. Despite the ongoing restructuring of the Alashankou border crossing, trains to Malaszewice are running with transit times of around 14 days. For specialised goods such as those with built-in batteries, things are getting a bit scrubby, conditions have become stricter in recent weeks. This is due to the actual summer months, high temperatures and strict customs inspections that threaten to suspend the entire collection container due to the ordered inspections.
More at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bulk shipments from China. We will help you to decide.
And how to deal with the previous information in the specific case of imports from China? Approximately what is the difference between air, sea and rail transport?
To put things in perspective, we have compared terminal-to-terminal prices for these three modes of transport for a typical 2 cbm, 500 kg shipment.
For a specific shipment, we will calculate a specific price for you including fees at the terminal in Prague and home delivery for all alternatives.
inform yourself: email@example.com
Intermodal connections between the Czech Republic and Northern European ports (Hamburg, Bremerhaven, Rotterdam, Antwerp) will be put to the test in October. The main (and in terms of capacity basically only) railway corridor between Bad Schandau and Děčín will be completely closed for 10 long days in the second half of October. This will have a similar impact (on an incomparably smaller scale) on the connection of the Czech Republic with ports in the north as the blockage of the Suez Canal by the Ever Given in March 2021. Alternate routes do exist, but they do not have comparable capacity, speed and are not cheaper either. This will need to be taken into account when planning production and the entire transport chain. We will inform you individually and continuously about the possibilities to get out of this mess with the healthiest possible skin. Or contact us for more information.
Ever Given - who's the culprit?
And speaking of the Ever Given's grounding in Suez in 2021 - only now has the Panama Register of Shipping, where the ship is registered, released the results of its investigation into the accident. Based on a comment on the Splash 24/7 portal, we loosely summarize as follows:
There was a whole chain of errors in the incident. The incorrect assessment of the weather conditions was the fault of everyone - both the Traffic Control in the canal, the captain of the ship and especially the pilots*) who guided the ship through the canal. At the time of the passage there was a strong gusty wind in Suez and visibility was reduced. Under such conditions it is usual to call for the assistance of tugs, which are moored fore and aft, and by their strength and dexterity are better able to control so large a ship than the ship's own engines and rudder. Such large ships (capacity 20,124 TEU, length 400m) are difficult to manoeuvre at slow speeds due to their overall weight, length and inertia and are very slow to respond to control instructions from the bridge. However, the use of tugs costs a lot of extra money...**) According to the records, the ship was going faster through the canal than allowed, the pilots were arguing on the bridge, they did not ask the captain for cooperation - after all, the situation was not helped by the language barrier between the captain of the ship and the two pilots speaking Arabic. External conditions (wind gusts, poor visibility) and chaotic steering (rapid acceleration and steering) had a direct effect on the loss of manoeuvrability and grounding of the ship.
A textbook case of the institute (case) of General Average: nobody is at fault, but the owner of the goods pays for the release. For those who had "all risk" insurance, the additional costs (the share of the ship's salvage costs) do not apply. Our insurance, which we can arrange for you on request, covers such expenses.
*) passage of the ship through the canals or guiding the ship to the harbour by river (e.g. on the Elbe to Hamburg) and landing manoeuvres are managed by pilots (harbour captains) who know the local conditions perfectly - currents, bottom silting, orientation in a small area, etc. better than the ship's captain, who is of course present on the bridge and available to the pilots, because he in turn knows better the capabilities of the ship itself.
**) For the work of tugs see these two short videos:
According to Council Regulation No 833/2014 concerning restrictive measures in view of Russia's activities destabilising the situation in Ukraine, Article 3g(1)(d), from 30.9.2023 it is prohibited to import or purchase directly or indirectly the iron and steel products listed in Annex XVII.