In the first eleven months of 2023, the China-Europe Railway Express recorded a 7% increase in rail operations and a 19% increase in container transport, totalling almost 1.75 million 20-foot-long (6-meter) containers. This figure already exceeds the total volume transported for the whole of 2022.
This intercontinental rail freight service is growing in strength as the number of cities served across Eurasia increases. In Europe, 217 cities in 25 European countries can now receive goods arriving by rail.
This partly explains why China-Europe Railway Express recorded a significant increase in freight operations in the first eleven months of this year, according to recent data released by China State Railway Group Co, Ltd. The service operated a total of 16,145 trains during this period.
While this figure represents a year-on-year increase of 7% in the number of trains, it is above all accompanied by a substantial 19% rise in container transport. This confirms that charterers are placing increasing demands on every outbound train.
Rail freight was boosted during the health crisis by the crisis in sea freight, which rapidly saturated air freight, itself subsequently impacted by the consequences of the war in Ukraine and energy prices.
The Silk Road rail project, which Beijing has been pushing since the mid-2000s, is gradually deploying routes throughout continental Asia. The link established between the ports of Shanghai and Rotterdam in July 2022 marked a turning point in this deployment.
By taking advantage of its vast territory, China also aims to establish its logistical foothold in the region, and become a hub for its neighbors' exports to the West. As a reminder, Asia accounts for over 70% of Europe's clothing imports, and over 60% of its textile imports.