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Rail transport is the most dynamically developing branch of logistics. Also, this transport is an ideal alternative to expensive air transport and shipping of goods by sea, which often takes more than 40 days. The rail freight from China to Europe was launched based on the idea of the Silk Road.

Rail freight from China to Europe

Centuries ago, China and Europe were connected by the Silk Road, which was led from Xi’an, through Central Asia to Constantinople. Silk, iron, and paper were mostly transported. However, by the later opening of the sea routes, the railway route lost its importance. It is now opening again and becoming very significant in trade relations between Asia and Europe.
Rail transport on the China – Poland route was launched already in 2013. However, the use of this type of transport was not so popular and widespread at the time. At that time, the chairman of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, initiated the New Silk Road.
The idea was created in 2008 when an agreement was signed to simplify the rules of rail transport of goods, i.e., SMGS convention.

Types of transport

Rail transport cargoes, similarly to sea transport, are divided into:

  • LCL (groupage transport)
  • FCL

It is possible to transport by rail goods from China at a controlled temperature, i.e., the so-called refrigerated transport.

Main terminals for transport between China and Europe

Currently, there are more and more railway connections between China and Europe.
Routes running through Poland connect Antwerp and Duisburg with Chongqing, as well as Hamburg and Zhengzhou. Carriages on these routes are usually longer and carry about 250 containers.

Travel time using a rail freight forwarding

Trains from China to Poland cover 11,000 km. They run from 7 to 17 days, depending on the initial and destination terminals.
The train travel time to Germany is extended to about 19 days. A good example is a train running from Shilong to Duisburg. The train stops in Warsaw. The route goes through Yekaterinburg, Moscow, Malaszewicze, Warsaw, and also Hamburg, to Duisburg. The route measures over 13,000 km.
We can also transport goods by train from China to United Kingdom. For example, train from Yiwu to London needs 18 days.

Transit time and door-to-door delivery

Transit time can be extended by about two days when using the door-to-door option. To a large extent, this depends on the destination of the load as well as on the final station of the train.
More and more forwarding companies offer a door-to-door service.

The cost of rail transport

Rail transport costs are almost three times lower than those for air transport. The railway route reduces costs by nearly 30%.
The price for a container is usually from USD 4,900 to 10,000. However, it depends on the transported goods.

Traditional rail route – Which way is the train from China going?

Containers can travel on two routes. The northern way runs through Russia and Belarus. This is the path of the Trans-Siberian Railway. The southern route runs through Kazakhstan, Russia, and Belarus. However, the transport time does not exceed three weeks.
The Kaliningrad terminal became a new border crossing on the Silk Road. The number of border crossings and cargo points is also constantly increasing, and with this trade between Europe and Asia is growing.

Train from China – what can we transport?

Furthermore, the Chinese mainly transport textiles, footwear, electronic equipment, and household appliances, advertising gadgets, interior, and garden design elements.
In 2017, 356 million smartphones went to export from Guangdong Province, where every fifth smartphone in the world is manufactured.

Rail transport is an interesting alternative for both sea transport and air transport. For people who care about time and price also, it is recommended to choose this type of transport.

Rail links between China and Europe are constantly modernizing and gaining in importance. With expensive air transport and long sea transport, more and more people are choosing to use rail transport. In the following article, we present TOP 5 Chinese cities, from which most of the railway shipments come to Europe.

Rail trains from China in Europe

In recent years, trains from China began to appear in crowds in Europe. Starting from several trains a week, now you can count them even several dozen of one day. Rail trains from China to Europe are a key element of the Belt and Road Initiative, the so-called Of the New Silk Road.
The number of loads traveling by train from China to Europe has increased significantly in recent years due to the involvement in the New Silk Road project.
The development of rail connections is to help both Chinese inland regions and European cities. Facilitating the transport of goods to China also attracts many European exporters.

TOP 5 Chinese cities

Based on data from 2018 regarding the total number of freight trains departing from China to Europe, we present the TOP 5 Chinese cities connected by rail with Europe.
Below on the map, you can see exactly where the city is.



Chengdu is a city that dominates in Chinese rail transport due to the large sector of advanced technology production.
The city is located over 1000 km from the coast, so it was decided to develop a different type of transport here.
In 2018, four trains and more departed from Chengdu to Europe per day.

Key information about Chengdu

  • Chengdu is the capital city of Sichuan,
  • In 2018, the city’s population was 16 million people,
  • Distance from the coast is about 1080 km.

Trains from Chengdu

In 2019 the total number of trains departing in Europe was 1 591.

Main routes

  • Chengdu – Budapest (Hungary),
  • Chengdu – Lodz (Poland),
  • Chengdu – Moscow (Russia),
  • Chengdu – Nuernberg (Germany),
  • Chengdu – Tilburg (Netherlands).

Transported products: food, wine, vegetables, fruits, clothes, shoes, hats, agricultural products, electrical appliances, cars, and spare parts.


Chongqing is one of the four separate cities of the People’s Republic of China. Established in 1997 after separation from the territory of Sichuan Province.

The first train from Chongqing left in March 2011 to Duisburg in Germany.

Key information about Chongqing

  • Chongqing is one of four separate cities,
  • Currently, the population is 30.48 million people,
  • Distance from the coast is about 880 km.

Trains from Chongqing

In 2018 the total number of trains departing in Europe was 1 442.

Main routes

  • Chongqing – Cherkessk (Russia),
  • Chongqing – Duisburg (Germany),
  • Chongqing – Minsk (Belarus).

Transported products: chemical products, food, clothes, furniture, electromechanical products, edible oils, paper pulp, fruit, cars.


Xi’an is first and foremost, the original starting point for the Silk Road, which originated and functioned in antiquity. It is one of the historically most important cities in China.

Key information about Xi’an

  • Xi’an is the capital city of Shaanxi Province,
  • The current population is 12 million people,
  • Distance from the coast is about 950 km.

Trains from Xi’an

In 2018 the total number of trains departing in Europe was 1 235.

Main routes

  • Xi’an – Budapest (Hungary),
  • Xi’an – Ghent (Belgium),
  • Xi’an – Hamburg (Germany),
  • Xi’an – Kouvola (Finland),
  • Xi’an – Milan (Italy),
  • Xi’an – Warsaw (Poland).

Transported products: products for mothers and children, soft drinks, vitamin products.


Zhengzhou is a city where half of the world’s mobile phones are manufactured (they are manufactured at the giant Foxconn factory). There are usually two trains departing to Europe daily.

Key information about Zhengzhou

  • Zhengzhou is the capital city of Henan Province,
  • The current population is 10.12 million people,
  • Distance from the coast is about 530 km.

Trains from Zhengzhou

Main routes

  • Zhengzhou – Hamburg (Germany),
  • Zhengzhou – Liege (Belgium),
  • Zhengzhou – Munich (Germany).

Transported products: textiles, car parts, electronic products, cigarettes, wine, food, clothes, sports equipment, construction machinery, medical devices, machinery.


Wuhan is located on the Yangtze River (China’s longest river) and has access to sea transport. However, this does not change the fact that rail transport is also more and more often used there.

Key information about Wuhan

  • Wuhan is the capital city of Hubei province,
  • Currently, the population is 10 million people,
  • Distance from the coast is about 630 km.

Trains from Wuhan

In 2018 the total number of trains departing in Europe was 423.

Main routes

  • Wuhan – Duisburg (Germany),
  • Wuhan – Hamburg (Germany),
  • Wuhan – Lodz (Poland),
  • Wuhan – Lyon (Italy),
  • Wuhan – Moscow (Russia),
  • Wuhan – Pardubice (Czech Republic)

Transported products: electronic, clothes, machines, and medical products.

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