China Railway Express

First freight train on its way from Wuhan to Europe

Train traffic between China’s Hubei province and Europe has resumed. On Saturday morning, the first freight train departed from Wuhan since the outbreak of the coronavirus in the Chinese city. Wuhan was considered as the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, but the city is recovering and the spread of the virus is now most concentrated in Europe and the United States.

On board of the train that is on its way to Duisburg in Germany are medical supplies, car parts, electronics and fiber optic cables. The train is expected to arrive in about fifteen days. After the arrival the goods will be forwarded to various German cities, France, the Netherlands, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland.

“Yesterday, exactly two months after Wuhan was locked, the first train from Wuhan was able to leave again to the terminal of our partner Duisburger Hafen AG in Duisburg”, said Erwin Cootjans of Nunner Logistics. The train service is an important part of the supply chain of this company, as some of the goods will be forwarded to Amsterdam.

Boost to market

Last year, 408 freight trains ran between Wuhan and Europe, of which 195 departed from the Chinese metropolis and 213 departed from Europe. It is an important manufacturing hub, especially for the automotive industry. The first train to depart after the lockdown is filled with local produce by 90 per cent.

The province of Hubei, of which it is the capital, was the last to remain closed for rail freight traffic during the coronavirus outbreak, and the opening marks a return of an important market on the New Silk Road. The inland port of Duisburg also noted this boost. Port operator Duisport reported to German media last week that it receives between 35 and 40 freight trains per week, about the same number as before the coronavirus outbreak.

Losses

Although New Silk Road traffic has started to move again, the German port expects to book a double digit loss rate in 2020 as a result of the corona outbreak. This is not only due to the reduced volumes on the Eurasian corridor.  The closure of various factories, for example in the car industry, hurts in Duisburg. The managing body of the port cannot yet say exactly how high the loss will be this year.

Also read:

Rail freight Wuhan resumes after weeks of lockdown

Author: Marieke van Gompel

Marieke van Gompel is editor of RailFreight.com and chief editor of the ProMedia Group online magazines.

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