Trucks and trains continue to take strain of mail delivery between China and Europe

28.05.2020 - With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to hinder mail delivery between China and Europe, trains and trucks are increasingly taking up the strain.

Since mid-April, nine trains have raced between China and Lithuania to deliver more than 2,000 tons of mail for onward delivery by truck to around 30 countries across Europe.

To better accommodate the train deliveries, and given the huge mail volumes involved, Lithuania Post decided to move train operations to a dedicated terminal. The move was successfully completed within the five days between the arrival of the first and second mail trains to Vilnius.

Before moving, additional staff were hired and the necessary permissions for the change of venue acquired. Around 60 people currently work at the site operating in four shifts. Thanks to the venue change, unloading times were reduced significantly; Lithuania Post also hired airport conveyor belts to quickly move bulkier items.

Speaking about the operational changes, Tadas Drunga, the head of the International Business Department at Lithuania Post said, “The handling of trains requires enormous resources and involves the need for highly accurate planning and logistics. With UPU’s ongoing cooperation, we have been able to offer a cost efficient and reliable service between China and Europe.”

Once mail is unloaded, a fleet of trucks distributes mail to destinations across Western and Eastern Europe, including Russia. For each train, the operation involves up to 50 trucks with some destinations only requiring vans or smaller trucks. On average, trucks take around two days to deliver mail to Moscow.

Trucking across Europe involves challenges as the trucks cross borders, especially where destinations are outside of the European Union. Lithuania Post has to obtain delivery addresses, provide special instructions on unloading certain parcels, and give out advisories on arrival times, postal documents and trucking details.

The success of the rail and road routes are part of the Universal Postal Union’s (UPU) integrated plan to promote alternatives to the use of passenger flights suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the virus spread across the world, the UPU created an Operational Continuity Unit to support postal operators. In a communication sent in late March, the UPU urged postal operators to share information on available transport by air or any other mode of surface transport to ensure the continued movement of the world’s mail.

The UPU remains in close contact with China Post, Lithuania Post, rail operators and international railway organizations and is preparing to update its regulations based on the success of the new train routes.

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  1. Dirk at 19.01.2016
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