Strong growth in Europe to Asia container trains

HHLA's subsidiary Metrans grows number of container trains by 114 per cent in 2020
31 May 2021

The pandemic and capacity bottlenecks in shipping have boosted rail transport links between Europe and Asia with around 878,000 standard containers (TEU) transported along various rail routes of the New Silk Road in 2020, according to estimates by the Roland Berger management consultancy. The figures may double by 2025, according to the UIC international railway organisation.

Double number of container trains on Europe-China routes

Metrans operated 913 trains in 2020 over 426 in 2019 that originated in or went to China. This comes to an increase of 114 per cent, with imports recording the largest growth (+131 per cent). The transport volumes of Metrans on the New Silk Road come to approximately 30,000 TEU. Peter Kiss, CEO of Metrans, commented: “Thirty years ago, we began transporting sea freight containers to the European hinterland. Metrans offered the first regular shuttle train connection between Hamburg and Prague. Since then, our network between European ports and its hinterland has grown every year. Additionally, we are one of the largest providers in the fastest growing market: rail transport between Europe and China.”

Hub terminals in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia are now pivotal to Metrans' European China transports. Around 60 to 80 Metrans trains per month connect Europe with key economic centres in China including Zhengzhou, Xi’an and Jinhua from those terminals. 

Port of Hamburg - main Sino-German hub 

The Port of Hamburg is the main hub on the Sino-German trade for both the continental and maritime Silk Road. More than half of Germany’s foreign trade with China is handled via Hamburg. The lion’s share of this figure is seaborne. In 2020 alone, more than 2.4 million TEU were handled in Germany’s largest seaport. As Europe’s largest railway port, Hamburg offers a dense network of wagon load traffic as well as shuttle and block train connections. Nearly 1,960 train departures to and from Hamburg per week are operated, including more than 230 weekly connections with China.