Metrans has increased the number of its container trains travelling between Europe and China by 114% over the past year, with the coronavirus pandemic and resulting capacity bottlenecks in shipping boosting the competitiveness of rail transport.
The volume and frequency of rail freight traffic between Asia and Europe has increased significantly in recent years.
According to management consultancy Roland Berger, around 878,000 teu was transported along the various rail corridors of the New Silk Road in 2020, while railway organisation UIC assumes this number could double by 2025.
Last year, HHLA subsidiary Metrans operated 913 trains that originated in or went to China, up from 426 the previous year, while its volumes on the Silk Road route totalled 30,000 teu. In particular, imports recorded growth of 131%.
Metrans CEO Peter Kiss said: “Thirty years ago we began transporting sea freight containers to the European hinterland. Metrans offered the first regular shuttle train connection between Hamburg and Prague.
“Since this time, our network between European ports and its hinterland has grown every year. Additionally, we are one of the largest providers in the fastest growing market: rail transport between Europe and China.”
Currently, 60 to 80 Metrans trains per month connect Europe with economic centres including Zhengzhou, Xi’an and Jinhua.
Together with partners, the intermodal company assembles the block trains in China that are taken over by traction operators at the various hubs of the Eurasian rail corridor.
These hubs are the Polish border terminal Malaszewicze (near the Belarusian city of Brest) and the Slovakian terminal in Dobra (near the Ukrainian border).