Has Apple built a secret hyperloop across Central Asia?

Not your father's Silk Road (Samarkand, 2007)

Not your father’s Silk Road (Samarkand, 2007)

I’ve read recently about the revival of the Silk Road as a rail freight route (e.g. see this fascinating DHL slide deck). It’s quicker than shipping, but cheaper than air. It seems to be a compromise well suited to high-value electronics, which have a relatively short shelf life and which tie up a lot of working capital while in transit.

I had read that HP does this for laptops. At first, when I saw the UPS tracking for my new MBP, I assumed Apple was now doing the same. How else to explain a stop off in Almaty of all places? But it’s too quick – this will be about 5 days end-to-end.

Moreover, my quick calculations suggest that my laptop travelled from Incheon to Almaty at an average speed of around 600km/h and from Almaty to Warsaw at over 700km/h.

The Register reported on this back in 2011, but it didn’t seem to find an answer. Does UPS fly small planes that need to refuel? Is this typical for air freight? Is this just some bizarre bug? What on earth – literally – is going on here?

Location Date Local Time Activity
Castle Donnington, United Kingdom 11/02/2013 4:17 A.M. Arrival Scan
Koeln, Germany 11/02/2013 3:59 A.M. Departure Scan
Koeln, Germany 11/01/2013 1:58 A.M. Import Scan
Koeln, Germany 10/31/2013 10:59 P.M. Arrival Scan
Warsaw, Poland 10/31/2013 9:14 P.M. Departure Scan
10/31/2013 7:07 P.M. Arrival Scan
Almaty, Kazakhstan 10/31/2013 6:21 P.M. Departure Scan
10/31/2013 4:42 P.M. Arrival Scan
Incheon, Korea, Republic of 10/31/2013 12:48 P.M. Departure Scan
10/31/2013 7:29 A.M. Arrival Scan
Shanghai, China 10/31/2013 4:52 A.M. Departure Scan
Shanghai, China 10/30/2013 10:14 P.M. Export Scan
10/30/2013 4:15 P.M. Arrival Scan
10/30/2013 4:00 P.M. Departure Scan
10/30/2013 3:13 P.M. Origin Scan
China 10/30/2013 12:32 A.M. Order Processed: Ready for UPS

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