New China-Germany train to boost trade

Security guards board a train carrying Chinese products as it passes through Kazakhstan on its way to Europe.photograph: james hill/the new york times

Security guards board a train carrying Chinese products as it passes through Kazakhstan on its way to Europe.photograph: james hill/the new york times


Last week, a cargo train from Zhengzhou in Henan province in central China began services to Hamburg in the north of Germany as part of efforts to boost bilateral trade between the two countries.

The container train starts its journey from Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province and passes through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus and Poland before reaching Germany, the Zhengzhou Railways Bureau told the China Daily.


The train will travel 10,214km and the journey takes between 16 and 18 days, shortening the length of time it takes cargo to go from Zhengzhou to Europe by sea by about 15 days.

“It can save a lot of time and money to import German electronic products, construction machinery, vehicles and parts, medical equipment and other high value-added products through this new international rail route,” Karl-Heinz Emberger, managing director of central and north China for logistics firm DB Schenker, told the newspaper.

Transporting goods by train is 80 per cent cheaper than by air, and is also considerably cheaper than moving them by road.

665 tonnes of goods

At two points in the journey, the containers have to be transferred by crane to different gauges. The first change is to the broader Russian-style gauge at the Kazakhstan-China border.

The second is a transfer to standard gauge at the Polish-Belarus border.

The first train was carrying 665 tonnes of goods such as tyres, shoes and clothes in 51 containers, and the volume of goods was worth €1.15 million, according to customs authorities in Zhengzhou.

There will be six such trains to Hamburg this year, which are expected to realise more than €75 million of exports and imports.

Next year, the number of cargo trains from Zhengzhou to Hamburg will rise to 50, bringing trade volume of more than €750 million.

China-Europe trade fell by 3 per cent year-on-year in the first half, to €196 billion. However, China remains Germany’s biggest trade partner, with bilateral trade of €143 billion in 2012.

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