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Kenya Standard Gauge Cargo TrainThe first standard gauge railway cargo train arrived in Nairobi on Monday at the ultra-modern inland container depot which was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta a fortnight ago.

The arrival of the cargo train is in line with President Kenyatta’s promise to reduce the cost of doing business in the country. In his New Year message, President Kenyatta said the new commercial cargo train would cut costs and delays in trade for Kenyans and its neighbours.

The President said the delivery of a world-class railway on time and within budget, would attract world-class manufacturing and value-addition investments, which are critical to creating jobs and business opportunities.

The cargo train carried 104 containers, which is almost equivalent to the trucks operating daily on the Mombasa-Nairobi highway.

According to the Kenya’s Ports Authority head of Inland Container Deports Symon Wahome, the new commercial cargo train will revolutionize the transportation of cargo in Kenya.

While the meter train used to carry twenty to thirty containers, the standard gauge train will carry 216 containers. Four trains will operate daily and later increased to eight cargo trains. Source: The Daily Nation (Kenya), 1 January 2018.

 

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The UK’s Daily Mail  reports the arrival of a freight train in east London has marked a new era for the 2,000-year-old trading route. It is the first freight train service from China to the UK. The route known as the ‘Silk Road’ once helped bring a wealth of goods from China to Europe.

The train pulled in to Barking after an 18-day journey from Yiwu, a wholesale market town in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang. It had passed through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France, finally crossing under the English Channel into Britain.

Laden with 68 twenty-foot equivalent containers, the train brought in a cargo of small commodities including household items, clothes, fabrics, bags, and suitcases.

The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road, also known as The Belt and Road (abbreviated B&R), One Belt, One Road (abbreviated OBOR) or the Belt and Road Initiative is a development strategy and framework, proposed by Chinese paramount leader Xi Jinping that focuses on connectivity and cooperation among countries primarily between the People’s Republic of China and the rest of Eurasia, which consists of two main components, the land-based “Silk Road Economic Belt” (SREB) and oceangoing “Maritime Silk Road” (MSR). The strategy underlines China’s push to take a bigger role in global affairs, and its need for priority capacity cooperation in areas such as steel manufacturing. Wikipedia.

Ten containers were taken off at the German hub of Duisburg. The remainder arrived in London at Barking’s Eurohub freight terminal. The service is faster than sending goods by sea. Weekly trains will initially be run to assess demand.

A number of different locomotives and wagons were used as the former Soviet Union states have a larger rail gauge than the other countries involved. China Railway already has freight services to a number of European destinations, including Hamburg and Madrid.

They are part of China’s One Belt, One Road programme of reviving the ancient Silk Road trading routes to the West, initially created more than 2,000 years ago.

Run by Yiwu Timex Industrial Investment, the Yiwu-London freight service makes London the 15th European city to have a direct rail link with China after the 2013 unveiling of the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative by Chinese premier Xi Jinping.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May  said the relationship with China remains ‘golden’ as she seeks to bring in billions of dollars in Chinese investment as Britain prepares to leave the European Union. Read the full original Daily Mail article here!

Picture1The days of halting trains and unloading contents for inspection appear to be over at the Dutch Port of Rotterdam, where trained operators can now use high-power X-ray scanners to produce clear, unambiguous imagery of densely packed cargo in trains moving at speeds up to 60 kilometers per hour (35 MPH).

Simultaneously, another group of operators located several miles away in a secure inspection office collect, analyze and evaluate the X-ray images for a wide range of potential threats, dangerous materials and contraband.

Because it all happens so swiftly — particularly as the containers are never unloaded or diverted individually to cargo inspection facilities — the speed of throughput increases exponentially. To be precise, Dutch Customs at the Port of Rotterdam can now inspect nearly two hundred thousand rail containers per year, or a single 40-foot container in eight-tenths of a second.

This is the future, or as in the case of Rotterdam, the present model of an enhanced global supply chain — ultra-high-speed rail throughput combined with ultra-accurate threat detection. This combination of speed and efficiency is an innovation that allows not only railways to be more secure, but the global supply chain as a whole.

Rail has long been an overlooked component of the modern supply chain, even though it is arguably one of the most important. Because of the nature of rail — with thousands of miles of unguarded track, often connecting countries — it has previously been challenging to screen and secure without causing a disruption to the supply chain. And while ports and airports typically get the lion’s share of technology innovation, all components need to be equally considered and secured to prevent interference and have a smoothly run supply chain.

For a long time, cost-minded operators have tended to view the security of rail cargo scanning and the efficiency of throughput as essentially two competing interests.

When minor security gains trigger major productivity losses — and when even small throughput disruptions can grind supply chains to a halt — it’s easy to see why rail lines have been relatively (and intentionally) under-served by global security improvement efforts.

As a result, one of the more popular rail security/efficiency compromises has been to implement a procedure for “small sample” screenings, by which only a small portion of each rail car or trainload is scanned for threats, dangerous materials, and contraband — providing a modicum of security without disrupting the core efficiency of the supply chain.

However, as malicious activities have become more prevalent and more sophisticated, “small sample” rail screenings have become increasingly insufficient. The United States Department of Homeland Security even instituted a 100% cargo-screening mandate at ports (though that mandate has since been retracted).

Accordingly, the industry has been eagerly seeking newer technology-based answers — ways to scan a larger portion of rail cargo without degrading throughput efficiency. The Dutch Customs’ solution meets higher inspection goals without detrimentally affecting the international supply chain.

Countless other customs and border agencies, companies, and national organizations are pursuing their own answers to similar and related security/efficiency challenges. For instance, rail operators worldwide are now experimenting with higher-energy X-rays for penetrating more densely packed freight cars. (When throughput lags, companies will attempt to condense their shipments into fewer cars, which can pose an obstacle for traditional X-ray scanners.)

In addition to the security factor, revenue is another motivator for government agencies to embrace this new cargo scanning technology. Customs enforcement of a freight rail (for international cargo lines) is extremely important to a country as contraband goods can cost governments hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax dollars. And smuggled contraband can also help fund organized crime and domestic terrorists, making it all the more important that rail lines not be overlooked when it comes to integrating cutting edge security.

In fact, a single malicious attack, occurring anywhere in the world, can devastate the global supply chain in its entirety, driving up prices and imposing major delays on manufacturers worldwide. By not being required to choose between 1) preventing extraordinary threats, and 2) maximizing the efficient of ordinary processes, the evolving technology can truly accelerate rail cargo screening and secure it too. Source: Rapiscan (Contributed by Andy Brown)