Data Tells: China-Europe freight train continues to expand in scope
Updated 13:12, 19-Apr-2019
Zhang Xinyuan

China Railway Express (CR Express), also known as the China-Europe freight train, part of the fundamental infrastructure of the country's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), has witnessed exponential growth since the first Chinese freight trains left from southwest China's Chongqing to Duisburg, Germany's biggest inland port back in 2011.

By March 2019, the continent-crossing rail has connected 60 Chinese cities with 50 cities of 15 European countries, with the freight train making over 14,000 trips back and forth.

The CR Express boosted the development of the former less developed middle and western regions in China, such as Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Shaanxi Province as well as Sichuan Province, by making them a transportation hub and inland port between China, Central Asia, West Asia and Europe, presenting China's backwater on the center of the newly revived trade route.

Among the top 10 provinces and regions that have the most frequent CR Express routes schedules, China's western provinces and regions rank top four, with Xinjiang taking the first place.

Along with China's central provinces such as Hunan, Hubei and Shanxi, over half of CR Express' schedules run through the middle and western provinces and regions.

The CR Express are well received by countries along the rejuvenated Silk Road, from only connected to Duisburg, Germany back in 2011 to 50 cities in 15 countries by late March 2019, all the way extended to London, the UK, one of the most important cities in Europe, and Madrid, Spain, the most distant stop of CR Express in Europe.

Among the countries connected to the CR Express, Germany, Russia and Kazakhstan are the top three countries with the most CR Express routes, with Germany accounting for 21.65 percent of the proportion, and Russia and Kazakhstan 17.71 percent and 9.45 percent, respectively.

Russia ranks first in the number of cities to connect with the CR Express, followed by Germany, the first country to connect with the CR Express and now launching the CR Express in five cities, including Hamburg, Munich, Duisburg, Nuremberg and Schwarzheide.

By 2017, 20 percent of the business in Duisburg port came from the CR Express. The freight trains delivered 100,000 containers in 2017, and the turnover reached a record-breaking 250 million Euros (283 million U.S. dollars), up by nine percent. Also, the revenue before tax hit 22 million Euros, increased by 16 percent year-on-year.

Not only benefits the port, but the CR Express also boosts the economic growth of the city in Germany as about 6,000 new jobs have been created in logistics industry alone in Duisburg, based on the Duisburg government statistics.

Also, North Rhine-Westphalia, where the Duisburg harbor is located, is a popular place to attract investment from Chinese companies with many well-known Chinese firms setting their German head offices here, like Huawei, according to Yicai.com. 

Graphics: Li Yixiao, Yin Yating


More to know about CR Express:

Data Tells: Trips on China Railway Express surge since 2011

Data Tells: The changing face of trade along the China-Europe rail network

Data Tells: How China's train routes are boosting trade and making it cheaper