Rail transport is a saviour of supply chains

Rail transport is a saviour of supply chains

Due to the restrictions and problems related to air and maritime transport, rail transport became the saviour of supply chains in 2020.

It is a known fact that the components needed for production and finished goods are mainly transported to Europe from China. Most of the goods are transported by freight or passenger aircrafts, by sea through the Suez Canal or by rail freight containers via the Silk Road.

The COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating effect on air transport – many scheduled flights between Europe and China were cancelled. As a considerable amount of air freight is transported by passenger planes, the cancelled flights had a drastic effect on the capacity of the transport of goods. This in turn put additional pressure on maritime and rail transport. Although air freight transport started to recover at the end of 2020, the prices were still extremely high.

In autumn 2020, global consumption started to grow again, which resulted in the problem of a container shortage in maritime transport. The Christmas season made things even worse – it was hard to find space on ships and there was a shortage of free containers. The prices of maritime transport increased so much that it was possible to transport goods by rail for the same price. Successively, the unexpected demand for rail transport resulted in a shortage of space and available containers. However, there were still fewer problems in rail freight than in maritime transport. As the prices of air transport were still high and the costs of maritime transport were equal to rail freight while the delivery times were twice as long, rail freight transport proved to be a good and stable alternative to air and maritime transport in the turbulent times.

It can be assumed that rail transport shall save some supply chains this year as well. The fact that the container ship Ever Given, transporting 20,000 containers, got stuck in the Suez Canal points to yet more chaos. This means that the delivery times shall again lengthen and the prices of maritime transport (due to additional costs related to sailing around Africa) that had started to fall after the Chinese New Year, shall start to rise again. 70 container ships will have to use the alternative way of reaching Europe by sailing around the Cape of Good Hope. This will add 6-7 days to the delivery time. We are again facing a situation similar to last year – the price range of maritime transport is similar to rail transport, while delivery by rail is much faster. This means that rail transport is becoming a stable and reliable transport means in the currently chaotic world.

In the beginning of March 2020, Aberg Express launched a new rail freight service between China and Europe, mainly focusing on LCL (less than containerload) and FCL (full container load) freight transport through the stations of Helsinki, Warsaw, Malaszewicze and Katowice. It is also possible to use cross trading for sending goods from China directly to a receiver in Europe. Regular weekly departures will be organised from China.


During its 13 years of operation, Aberg Express has been offering time-critical transport services and dedicated logistics solutions mainly in Europe. One of our strengths has been road transport solutions. We have also offered global air freight services such as express air transport, on-board courier service and charter flights. Our main home markets are Estonia and Finland. Last year, we organised deliveries to 37 countries and four continents. Our security of supply was a record 99.01%.

“Our goal is to offer our clients security and solutions that require accuracy and good planning. It may not be easy to find such solutions – we have to be smart and combine different approaches according to the given situations. As our background is express and premium deliveries, dedicated solutions are the norm for us. We are always ready to take action in the best interests of our clients,” says Kaspar Soidla, the owner and manager of Aberg Express.