From sea to land: Rail becomes the new mainstay of China-Europe transport

From sea to land: Rail becomes the new mainstay of China-Europe transport
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Rail transport has emerged as a preferred alternative, with an average journey time significantly shorter than sea routes.


In the wake of recent maritime disruptions, rail transport from China to Europe is experiencing a significant revival. The average journey time from China to the EU, which is significantly shorter at 8.9 days compared to 45 days for maritime transport, has become a crucial factor in this shift. The change is particularly pronounced following attacks on ships in the Red Sea.

Symlog, a company specializing in these transports, reports a strong increase in orders for rail transport from China. Despite occasional container shortages, the situation remains manageable and there is growing interest in rail as a long-term solution for European customers who have traditionally relied on Mediterranean routes. Italy's Codognotto has responded to this demand by launching a service from three Chinese cities to Milan, with three departures a week. Jakub Lewczuk, head of rail freight for the EU and China regions at AsstrA-Associated Traffic, notes an increase in inquiries from countries such as Turkey, which do not normally benefit from rail freight from China.

Despite the geopolitical tensions affecting maritime routes, rail operators along the China-Europe route, including Belarusian, Kazakh, and Russian railways, have maintained stable prices. According to the Euroasian Rail Alliance Index (ERAI), the cost of a 40-foot container is $3057, with a recent marginal increase of 0.07 per cent.

While rail offers a faster alternative, some customers remain cautious due to unpredictable delivery times and challenges in tracking shipments. This is particularly evident in congested areas such as Małaszewicze in Poland, where train arrivals can vary significantly.

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