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Nippon Yusen to deliver cars to Europe by train to cut emissions

Japanese shipper to switch to overland routes via China and Central Asia

TOKYO -- Japanese marine shipper Nippon Yusen will send some of its exports by rail rather than sea freight to cut carbon emissions, Nikkei has learned.

The company will start transporting Japanese cars to Europe using trains that cross mainland China this year. Having formed a partnership with a Chinese railway operator, it plans to ship automobiles from Japan to the Chinese city of Dalian, from where shipments will travel through Altynkol in Kazakhstan, over a total distance of 5,000 km.

Nippon Yusen's move comes as the shipping industry is trying to address climate change amid growing momentum for decarbonization.

Until now, Nippon Yusen has been shipping cars from Japan to Turkey from where they enter Europe. Although the number of automobiles that can be transported by train each journey is lower than by sea freight, it also takes half the time of only four weeks. As such, the company said, carbon emissions can also be cut in half.

Delivery costs will be the same for its clients. The company plans to transport about 5,000 units in the first year and hopes to increase that number to 30,000 to 50,000 units a year by around 2025. Nippon Yusen is also developing a ship that runs on hydrogen and ammonia.

The shipping and delivery industry is under pressure as the Japanese government has pledged to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. The industry is said to account for about 2% of the world's carbon emissions.

Nippon Yusen said it has added rail delivery options as automobile manufacturers and other industries have begun to pick transportation companies based on their commitments to decarbonization.

Its Japanese rivals are starting to expand railway options. Japan's top logistics company Nippon Express also plans to double the volume of rail freight between China and Europe this year.

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