Freight train between Tilburg-Chengdu. Photo: Flickr

Holland Pavilion in China promises growth for Dutch businesses and rail

Freight train between Tilburg-Chengdu. Photo: Flickr

Since its establishment in 2018 until today, the Holland Pavilion in China has provided an eastwards gateway to many Dutch businesses. Roland Verbraak, General Manager of GVT Group of Logistics, foresees that the specific enterprise will bring forth even more possibilities for expansion in the Chinese market, with a low cost.

Roland Verbraak is also among the speakers of the European Silk Road Summit, which takes place online on 10 and 11 November. During his presentation, he will provide in-depth insights concerning business opportunities in China.

“The first delegation from China arrived in the Netherlands back in 2015 to negotiate the possibilities of a direct train connection between the two countries”, said Verbraak. In 2016 the line between Tilburg and Chengdu began its operations. The imbalance of volumes between imports and exports, however, led to the initiative of establishing a Holland Pavilion to promote the export trade from the Netherlands to China by rail. Since then Tilburg terminal is connected with another destination; the city of Xi’an, while plans for further expansion are underway.

Open invitation

The existence of the Holland Pavilion in Chengdu is trying to establish Dutch products in the growing Chinese market and provide the right circumstances under which Dutch businesses could flourish in the East. “At the moment, we are shipping a lot of wine and beer”, said Verbraak. Simultaneously, though, there is a growing demand for a wide variety of goods. Apart from beer and wine, food products, together with greenhouse equipment, machinery, and luxury cars, are also shipped by rail from the Netherlands to China. Verbraak also mentioned that the observed demand is “due to the fast-paced growth of the Chinese middle-class and its interest in European products”.

Alongside the business prospects, comes, of course, the probability of expanding rail routes from the Netherlands to China. The example of the direct itineraries Tilburg-Chengdu and Tilburg-Xi’an could be the starting point of establishing more rail connections to the East. Subsequently, rail freight could gain even more space in the trade traffic between Dutch and Chinese destinations and contribute to the modal shift towards the rail.


Besides, as Verbraak underlined, the impact that COVID-19 had on the business during the first half of 2020 was of minor importance. Not only it didn’t reduce the traffic flows of rail, but instead, it increased them. “Due to the lack of air freight we had eight trains reaching the Netherlands from China per week”, stated Verbraak, “and the skyrocketing of e-commerce distribution played a crucial role in that”. Even though travelling time due to congestion increased in some routes, rail proved to be an excellent alternative to air transportation. As a result, Verbraak estimated that rail would start gaining more and more attention in the eastward transcontinental trade.

European Silk Road Summit

Do you want to hear all about the developments on the New Silk Road in 2020? On 10 and 11 November, the online edition of European Silk Road Summit 2020 takes place. The impact of the pandemic, the current volumes and the forecasts for the year to come are other topics on the programme. Have a look here or register here.

Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is editor of, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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