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New Silk Route: China-Europe Rail Route (YUXINOU)
Apr 07, 2014

One of the world’s longest railways—a modern-day silk road—covers about 11,000km en route from the Chinese megacity of Chongqing to Duisburg, a key commercial hub in western Germany.

As part of his visit to Germany recently, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the last stop on the Yuxinou rail line, an industrial feat that promises to revolutionize transport between Europe and Asia. He ceremoniously welcomed a freight train crammed with laptops and electronics after it completed its journey through Central Asia, Russia, Belarus and Poland.

Duisburg is a steel-making town of about half a million on the confluence of the Rhine and Ruhr rivers that boasts the world’s biggest inland port and is one of Germany’s most important transport and commercial hubs.

Despite the vast distances between them, it takes just 16 days for trains to travel to Duisburg from Chongqing, a sprawling metropolitan symbol of rising China with a population of more than 30 million.

Set up in 2011 by a group of rail companies, the Yuxinou is just 2,000 km short of the world’s longest rail line that links Germany to Shanghai. It has shaved more than 20 days off the sea route.

The route is particularly useful for Chongqing, a hub of vast car parts and IT factories, since it lies 1,500km from China’s main seaports.The value of this rail link, known in China as the new silk route. It has found itself a position in the market and now operates up to three weekly services.

Yet one of the biggest challenges will be to boost traffic in both directions to make it more profitable. It is not uncommon for the Yuxinou trains, which can transport as many as 50 containers, to be full when they arrive in Duisburg, but empty when they return to China. At the moment, the amount of goods travelling from China to Europe is much larger than the other way round. It was sea transport that gradually supplanted the historic Silk Road trade route linking Asia with Europe centuries ago. Sea transport still accounts for more than 95% of goods trading between the two regions.


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