China and Germany are increasing services on a railway route linking a key port in west Germany to one of the biggest industrial cities in China.
Chongqing in China, which hosts production sites of companies including Hewlett-Packard, Acer and Apple, is connected to Duisburg in Germany, the world’s biggest inland port, through the route, which began operations in 2011.
During a visit to Germany in late March, China’s President Xi Jinping met a cargo train that had arrived in Duisburg carrying electronics from Chongqing, taking 16 days to travel the route. The service between the two cities has already expanded from one train per week to three, and the aim is to have a daily service.
China, which is Germany’s third-biggest trade partner, is looking to promote its industrial hubs to Europe and freight trains are proving to be both faster than sending cargo by sea and cheaper than transporting goods by air.
The Chonqing-Duisburg route is faster than the sea route by 20 days. Experts also say that electronics are less damaged by climate conditions on trains compared to journeying by sea.
Trans Eurasia Logistics, a joint venture between Deutsche Bahn and Russian Railways, operates the trains, which at full capacity carry 50 40ft containers.
Trade is currently one-sided, with trains moving goods from China to Germany, but Xi has signalled his desire to promote export opportunities for German companies. Car producers could transport German-made quality parts to their assembly plants in China, for example.
Trans Eurasia Logistics plans to provide temperature-controlled containers on the Chongqing-Duisburg route to transport goods sensitive to very high or low temperatures, such as medicine. DHL launched such containers earlier in January on a route connecting Chengdu in south-west China with the Polish cities of Lodz and Malaszewicze.
Xi said he hoped cooperation between China and Germany in manufacturing would encourage the production of more high-quality products, and that collaboration would boost economic growth for both.