Can the southern corridor become an effective solution for China-Europe rail transportation?
The first export train from Turkey to China (Photo:

The southern corridor of the China-Europe freight train mainly refers to the corridor from China to Europe through Turkey. The main route is via the BTK railway (Baku – Tbilisi – Kars) , linking Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan, crossing the Caspian Sea at the port of Baku and connecting the port of Aktau in Kazakhstan. Eastbound trains arrive the port of Korgos to connect China, while westbound trains head towards Europe via Istanbul, Turkey.

In November 2019, the first China-Europe freight train arrived in Ankara, Turkey. The train departed from Xi’an, China to Turkey, and finally arrived in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.

In December 2020, Turkey’s first export train to China from Istanbul passed the BTK railway, crossed the Caspian Sea, and arrived China via Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. So far, the freight train between Turkey and Xi’an is still regularly operating.

Beside the operator in Xi’an, another chinese operator currently active in the southern Corridor is Gansu China-Europe International Logistics Co., Ltd., which operates the China-Europe freight train “Tianma” from the city Wuwei, Gansu Province. Chairman Fang Hongming told New Silkroad Discovery that many new customers have recently inquired about their operation project (Wuwei-Georgia-Europe/Middle East/Africa) and expressed their willingness to cooperate.

The operator in Wuwei is planning some new routes to more destinations in Europe, like Budapest, Lisbon, Hamburg and London. According to Chairman Fang, the transportation cost of the southern routes has been approved, which is basically the same as that of the traditional route.

Compared with the main corridor of the China-Europe freight train passing through Poland-Belarus, the southern routes are not frequently used. The main reasons are the level of economic developement and the railway infrastructure which needs to be improved. But the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine has increasingly made train operators realize the importance of multi-channel construction.

Another operator told New Silkroad Discovery that their trains along the southern corridor are not regularly operated. However, they have refocused attention on this corridor and are conducting cost accounting, considering the current war.


Reporter: Lola Liu