First Cargo Train Departs from Shenzhen, via Ganzhou, to Europe; Land Route Between China and Europe Gains Momentum During COVID-19

On June 6, 2020, the first cargo train to travel to Europe from Shenzhen via the Ganzhou international land port departed on its course.  Traveling approximately 13,000 miles via Kazakhstan and Russia, the train will reportedly arrive in Duisburg, Germany with $3.5 million in consumer goods in 16 days – 10 days shorter than the typical ocean transport between the two regions.

This shipment is part of an increase in the amount of trade traversing land-based routes connecting China and Europe.  One such link, the China-Europe Railway Express route, has seen a 43% increase in the volume of goods transported since last year, setting a new cargo transport record in May.

Rail transport has become significantly more competitive in speed and cost over the past decade, but especially so during the COVID-19 pandemic due to air- and sea-based trade becoming more expensive due to decreased volume.  This has amplified the role of land-based trade (such as rail) between China and Europe.  According to China’s state-run Global Times, cargo transport via the China-Europe Railway Express increased by 48% year-on-year.

 To help facilitate the expansion of such trade, some local Chinese governments have eased customs restrictions to allow freight trains to transport goods more efficiently.