761- China Europe train - FELB

Tenfold growth in 5 years: Everybody focused on this market


China-Europe rail freight traffic is seen as the biggest opportunity by almost all players in transport market.

One after the other, new routes have been announced by leading companies for the rail traffic between China and Europe.

The story had started in 2008, when the first train departed from China. The train crossed all Russia following Trans-Siberian railway, Belarus and Poland and finally arrived Germany.

In 2011, an alternative route was started using for China-Europe trains: Kazakhstan.

In 2013, the companies running trains on this route announced “high-speed freight trains” with 15 days of transit time. Starting with 2013, the China-Europe trains boost.

In 2015, first train from China to Spain departed. The same year, first train departed from Finland to China.

Many other countries were named for trial trains to/from China in 2016. Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukrain, Iran and France were the new destinations for China trains.

In 2017, three new routes are announced: UK, Hungary and finally Italy. As Baku-Tblisi-Kars railway opened, Turkey also expects to get some share from this traffic.

The growth in rail transports between China and Europe is remarkable: The transports on this route have been doubled almost every year since the beginning.

China Europe container traffic by rail via Kazakhstan (TEU)
China Europe container traffic by rail via Kazakhstan (TEU)

The transcontinental trains had started on one of the two main routes, through Kazakhstan, with 1100 TEU in 2011. In five years, the volume increased by ten times, reaching to 101k TEU in 2016. As Kazakhstan Railways stated, the expected volume in 2017 is 200k TEU. Expectations for 2020 is splendid: 2 millons TEU.

Cover Photo: FELB ©

Written by Onur Uysal

Railway consultant. Owner of RT Media & Consultancy. Founder and editor of Rail Turkey.

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