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China-Europe freight trains jump 96% in Jan-Feb, a steady pillar for BRI trade in hard times

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China-Europe freight trains jump 96% in Jan-Feb, a steady pillar for BRI trade in hard times
in Freight News 09/03/2021

Driven by a resilient global demand for Chinese goods ranging from personal protective equipment (PPE) to home appliances, China-Europe freight trains, which have become a pillar for the trade for countries along the Belt and Road when other transports were disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak, have seen record growth in the early two months of the year.

A total of 2,213 freight trains were dispatched between cities in China and Europe in January and February combined, up 96 percent year-on-year, and the amount of goods delivered was also significant at 209,000 TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units), up 106 percent year-on-year, according to the report the China State Railway Group Co (China Railway) sent to the Global Times over the weekend.

Since last May, more than 1,000 trains have been dispatched each month for 10 consecutive months, the report said.

This came as the number of trains running across last year was 12,406, an increase of 50 percent year-on-year, exceeding the “10,000” mark for the first time and 7.3 times than that of 2016, Zhao Chenxin, a spokesperson of the National Development and Reform Commission, told a press conference in January.

Bucking the trend

BRI related countries have played an important supporting role in the sustained improvement of China’s foreign trade. In January and February, China’s exports to the BRI related countries reached 1.62 trillion yuan ($249 billion), a year-on-year increase of 23.9 percent, China Customs said on Sunday.

Zhao Juan, research fellow with the China Railway Economic and Planning Research Institute, told the Global Times on Sunday that the China-Europe freight train, an iconic logistic channel for the Belt and Road, has been under rapid growth since last year for it delivers goods faster and cheaper than ships and planes.

As shipping freight rates have largely increased due to a container shortage created by a backlog at foreign ports, the transport time and fees of the train remain relatively stable.

Despite congestions abroad, trains only take 18 days to arrive in Germany, shorter compared to around 35 days by sea, a trader told the Global Times.

“China-Europe freight trains are becoming very popular, especially after the suspension of some transport services by sea and air due to the ongoing outbreak,” a staff at Chengdu International Railway Logistics Service told the Global Times over the weekend, noting that even the most advantageous shipping prices have been rising precipitously, making it more expensive than the freight trains these days.

Driven by the booming logistic demand, the trains have also been booked to such an extent that many providers have even introduced lottery system to allocate trains and containers, media reports.

The China-Europe freight trains have performed better in particular areas including Yiwu in East China’s Zhejiang Province – commonly referred to as the world supermarket.

Over 200 China-Europe freight trains have been dispatched from Yiwu to European cities in the first two months of this year, an unprecedented increase of 336 percent year-on-year, Zhao Hengchao, a director with the port customs at Yiwu West Train Station, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The significant jump had to do with the backlog of goods that were not able to be delivered last year, said Zhao.

However, the container shortages for the freight trains have been eased despite the strong demand.

“The number of containers needed for the train have reduced by 15 percent compared with last December since many new containers have been made and some containers stranded abroad have been sent back,” said Zhao.

One conspicuous trend is the changing type of goods delivered via the train from mainly PPE last year to other daily commodities such as home appliances and clothing these days, according to the port customs.
 

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Nippon Express launches new Europe-China train amidst booming demand
Published on 05-03-2021 at 06:30

Nippon Express has launched a new regular service from Suzhou, in eastern China. Once per week a train departs to Europe, stopping in the Polish hub of Malaszewicze and the German nodes Hamburg and Duisburg. It is part of its strategy to move more goods by rail this year.

The first train departed on 7 February and since then, every Sunday marked a new departure from Suzhou West Station, located amidst the industrial clusters of eastern China. An eastbound service is in the planning, and the Japanese company wants to develop rail freight services from Suzhou to Moscow, Russia and Hanoi in Vietnam as well.
Right time and place
Nippon Express is jumping in at the right moment, as the demand for rail freight services to Europe is booming. Existing train services are fully booked, and a lot of cargo remains in China to be shipped to Europe, not necessarily via the traditional routes.
The company already realised the potential last year, when it announced its plans to increase the rail services connecting China-Europe. From the start of 2021, it would double the freight trains it operates, and move more of its volumes to rail. The new service seems a perfect start.
5,000 trips per year
Since 2015, the company has been connecting various Chinese cities with European ones, using the China Railway Express. The collaboration with a train operator from Xi’an, allows the logistics company to operate around 3,000 round trips to Europe per year. Estimations say that with the company turning its attention to rail services, these round trips to Europe will reach the number of 5,000 per year.
Currently, Nippon Express sees 10 per cent of its cargo transported by rail. “To satisfy increasingly diverse logistics needs, Nippon Express will continue formulating new transport services and meeting the commitment to “create new ideas and value that expand the field of logistics”, the company said.
 

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Horgos Port handles record China-Europe freight trains in H1

Xinhua · china.org.cn | July 12, 2021

Horgos Port in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region handled 3,057 China-Europe freight trains in the first half of the year, up 52.5 percent year on year, ranking first among the railway ports in the country.

The total rail freight volume in Horgos, China's closest port to Central Asia and Europe by land transport, reached 4.29 million tonnes, up 66.8 percent year on year, customs figures showed.

Seven new China-Europe freight train routes passing through the port opened this year, bringing the total number of freight train lines through the port to 28.

Wei Chunguang, a customs official, said household appliances, chemical products and daily necessities were the main export items, and the exports of automobile accessories and electronic components are gaining growth momentum.

There has been a steady increase in imports, such as auto parts and cotton yarn, from Central Asia and Europe on return trips by the cargo trains, Wei added.
 

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It is good to know they are removing subsidies so most of the traffic is from market forces.
 
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