ERAI data shows decline in rail freight between China and Europe in 2022
The volumes of containers transported between China and Europe (Photo:

The outbreak of the war in Ukraine and the consequent deterioration of the relation between Russia and Europe have led to changes in the rail transport market between China and Europe.

The statistics of ERAI from the operator UTLC ERA presents the changes in the volume of freight transported by rail between China and Europe.

In 2022, the freight trains linking China and Europe have transported 410,520TEUs, down 33.59% year-on-year.

Westbound rail freight

In terms of westbound transportation, the rail freight volume between China and Poland was 178,520TEUs, down 13.41% year-on-year. The volume from China to Germany is 64,404TEUs, which means a decrease of 55.16%.

The third and fourth places were taken by Belgium and the Netherlands. The volume from China to Belgium was 15,504TEUs, down 22.77%. The volume to the Netherlands was 7,896TEUs, which shows a decrease of 70.88%.

It is worth mentioning that the freight route from China to Hungary was the “one and only” westbound route that rose against the trend, reaching 6,174TEUs, an increase of 2,987%. Compared to 200 TEU the year before, this represents a nearly 30-fold increase. Hungary has also become the fifth most important destination country for the China-Europe freight trains in Europe in 2022.

Eastbound rail freight

In 2022, the rail freight volume from Germany to China is 107,300TEUs, which presents a decrease of 21.82%. The eastbound volume from Germany is more than the westbound volume from China. It shows a solid foundation for belateral trade relation and a close industrial cooperation between Germany and China.

The volume from Poland to China was 17,216TEUs, a decrease of 61.19% year on year. It was much lower compared to the westbound volume from China to Poland. Compared to trade between China and Germany, the rail freight between China and Poland is much more unbalanced.

Also ranking high was the eastbound route from the Netherlands, where the volume reached 6,788TEUs, presenting a drop of 41.54%.

The volume of freight from Hungary and Finland was 986TEUs and 910TEUs, with the Hungarian route also achieving an increase of 204.32%.

What will be the trend in rail freight volumes in 2023?

Will the rail freight volumews between China and Europe continue to fall in 2023? According to some analysts, the volume has probably already come to a low point in 2022.

The negative factors for 2023 are the still ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, the diversification and reorientation of the supply chains of European companies, the unstable China-Europe relations at this stage, and the fears of further deterioration of the relation between China and USA.

The positive factors are the resumption of production in China after the epidemic and the smooth flow of the logistics supply chain, as well as the reopening of China.

At a more detailed level, it is worth observing to what extent the normalisation of maritime prices and the maritime supply chain will allow European-bound cargo to leave the railways. The growing demand for exports to Europe in the electric vehicle sector will also be a continuing driver for the China-Europe freight trains.


Statistics: ERAI /