Rail container volumes between Asia and Europe are forecast to more than double in the next five years, hitting 1M TEU in 2025.
The growth rates are phenomenal considering that in 2011 when the current network started to be developed saw just 11 journeys. In 2018, over 6,300 container trains carried in excess of 360,000 TEU on three main corridors and in 2019 box volumes are expected to exceed 450,000 TEU.
“We are seeing more vehicles and express goods transported by rail,” explained Muyuan Li, vice chair and secretary general of the China Container Industry Association in a key note address at the recent Intermodal Europe 2019 show held in Hamburg. “In eight years 18,000 trains have run to/from Europe and China Express Rail has developed 65 routes. Over 50 cities in China are now connected to 40 cities in Europe by rail and there will be further rapid growth over the next three years.”
Miguel Pereira de Sousa, product manager, Asia Rail Bridge at Hamburg-based Senator International, agreed with Li and was confident that growth rates would continue at very high levels. Despite subsidies being reduced, he said prices were actually decreasing as services were becoming more efficient and operators more productive.
He pointed to ongoing improvements in transit times and said that the goal to have 10-day transits (terminal-to-terminal) within five years was on schedule, despite significant capacity challenges in several areas.
“This will make the trains even closer to air freight transit times and I believe it will result in beneficial cargo owners transferring cargo from this mode to rail. I have a really good feeling about the rail sector for next year and beyond.”