Rail freight rates in the last 2 weeks of this year. from China to Europe are stable. A new €53 million investment has been confirmed for the construction of a multimodal transport base in Goenyű, Hungary. A large part of the cargo that was originally transported by sea has been transferred to land, which has led to a huge increase in the demand for rail and road transport from China to Russia. The industry expects the volume of freight to Europe in 2023 to be no lower than in 2022, and with the lifting of COVID restrictions by China, European companies will start importing goods from China again.


  1. Sea freight

Formerly, just after the Chinese New Year was the so-called. 45-day "quiet period", but this time it is likely to exceed 60 days due to the global economic slowdown. Many factories in China have only recently reopened due to low orders from Europe and the US. During the pandemic, the flow of containers was disrupted, as a result of blockades in many countries, which resulted in a large number of containers piled up in ports in the USA, Australia and Europe. At the same time, the demand for sea transport was high, so the production of containers accelerated. However, today it is quite the opposite, we are dealing with a large amount of surpluses. Empty containers are piling up in ports and warehouses around the world. The work and rest time of trailer drivers in Shanghai, China, between trips has been reduced to 12 hours and 24 hours rest (previously it was 12 hours work and 12 hours rest).

Meanwhile, freight rates continue to fall. The latest Shanghai Export Container Freight Index (SCFI) fell below 1000, returning to pre-pandemic levels. Freight forwarders report that freight rates from China to Europe are below cost for many shipping companies. There is a price war in the ocean shipping industry.

spot rates:


– Far East – Europe: $925/TEU, -$36 or -3.74% weekly.

- Far East - Mediterranean: 1724 USD/TEU, -30 USD or -1.71% weekly.

WCI Drewry:

Drewry anticipates small weekly rate reductions over the next few weeks.

– Shanghai-Rotterdam:$1698/ FEU, -1% or -$17 per week.

– Shanghai-Genoa: $2581/ FEU, -3% or -$74 per week.

According to Xenet, the average rates for long-term contracts fell in January this year. by 13,3%. There are strikes in many countries in Europe. For example, in Finland on February 15, which led to disruption and closure of all port terminals in that country. In France, 1 rounds of strikes took place within 5 month, and the next one is scheduled for March 7 this year. In Germany, airport workers went on a one-day strike on February 17 this year. which resulted in the cancellation of over 2300 flights. In the UK, tens of thousands of workers will strike over pay and working conditions in the coming months.

The earthquake in Turkey caused the suspension of the operation of the port of Iskenderun. It only affected local freight traffic, not global maritime traffic. This is due to the fact that the throughput of ports in the earthquake zone is not large.


  1. Rail Freight

Rail freight rates from China to Europe have remained stable over the past 2 weeks. Transit times have been shortened as congestion on the border between Kazakhstan and China has decreased. It takes about 12-15 days from main Chinese railway stations (such as Chongqing, Chengdu, Xi'an, Yiwu) to Małaszewicze in Poland. And the shortest door-to-door transit time is around 24-27 days.

Recently, a new €53 million investment was confirmed for the construction of a multimodal transport base in Goenyű, Hungary. The project will be built jointly by 4 entities from 3 countries - China, Singapore and Hungary. Goods from China will be delivered by rail to warehouses in Hungary and Germany, and then distributed to other European countries.

Due to the outbreak of war between Ukraine and Russia and sanctions against Russia, major players such as Maersk, CMA and HMM left Russia and Belarus in 2022. A large part of the cargo that was originally transported by sea has been transferred to land, which has led to a huge increase in the demand for rail and road transport from China to Russia.

Fortunately, China attaches great importance to cooperation with Europe, and trains to Europe have always been given priority, so transit times remain short.

But rail, like any other mode of transport, is largely dominated by commerce. And the increase in trade between China and Russia, as well as the economic slowdown in Europe, caused many trains to change their destination from European countries to Russia.

Over the past year, many Russian and Belarusian carriers have adjusted their strategies and launched new cooperative ventures with Chinese shipping companies. New overland transport routes have also been established between Russia and China, and some previously less appreciated border crossings between the two countries are being reused.

Meanwhile, freight volumes to Europe are low after Chinese New Year and sea freight rates continue to fall. Some rail customers have switched to sea freight, but rail freight to Europe is currently insufficient. Many platforms have not even published freight rates to Europe for the next few months.

UTLC ERA counted the volume of cargo from China to Europe through the main transit ports (Khorgos, Alashankou, Brest, Kaliningrad) in 2022. The data shows that rail traffic data volumes do not include volumes entering and leaving China via Manzhouli, Erlianhot and Suifenhe ports. They cover the 2 main terminals to Europe, so the UTLC figures are convincing.

The industry expects freight volumes to Europe in 2023 to be no lower than in 2022, and with China lifting COVID restrictions, European companies will start importing from China again as confidence increases.

The table below shows the volume of rail cargo between January 2022 and January 2023.


CN-EU Rail Freight Cargo (Round Way) Jan 2022-Jan 2023
Point of departure arrival point Volume Of Transported Goods
TEU Thousand tons
431 (-854%) 2 (-612,30%)
China Belgium 16 (-200%) 101,02 (-12,93%)
China Hungary 6 (+602%) 44,31(+4%)
China Italy 100 (-90,91%) 0,56 (-92,91%)
China Czech Republic 882 (-78,99%) 6,03 (-77,66%)
China poland 189 (-182%) 1 (-198,38%)
China Germany 66 (-570%) 410,26 (-53,36%)
China Denmark 200 1,04 (+ 6,46%)
China Finland 1 (-804%) 9,86 (-65,06%)
China Netherlands 8 (-096%) 47,52 (-68,74%)
China France 592 (-74,22%) 3,35 (-70,99%)
China United Kingdom 284 1,44
Czech Republic China 456 (-83,00%) 4,15 (-87,19%)
Finland China 910 (-50,97%) 8,14 (-45,09%)
France China 222 (+ 37,04%) 1,23 (+ 23,21%)
Germany China 114 (-062%) 654,40 (-22,34%)
Hungary China 986 (+ 150,25%) 1,59 (+ 224,39%)
Netherlands China 7 (-040%) 32,40 (-52,81%)
poland China 17 (-384%) 85,61 (-71,28%)
Sweden China 200 (-71,43%) 0,81 (-71,72%)


  1. Road transport

Road transport of goods from China to Europe has slowed down recently, most of it being dangerous goods, equipment and e-commerce goods. Due to the high demand for road transport from China to Russia and Central Asia, road border crossings on the border between China and Kazakhstan remain congested.

On January 23, Kazakhstan introduced an electronic queuing system at Alashankou to improve the efficiency of the border crossing, however, it is still monopolized by a few companies. There are people who stand in line just to buy tickets and then resell them at higher prices. Kazakhstan is now in the process of re-regulating the system. With the increase in transit traffic in Kazakhstan, customs formalities are slow.

The Bobrowniki – Bierestowica road crossing on the Polish-Belarusian border was closed on February 10 this year. Poland stated that it was done in its own interest and for the security of the country. There is currently only one freight crossing on the Polish-Belarusian border. As a countermeasure, Belarus announced that Polish vehicles could enter and leave only through the Polish-Belarusian border and were not allowed to pass through Lithuania and Latvia. This has led to an increase in the number of vehicles at the Koroszczyn-Brest border crossing and discourages future investment by Chinese-European road hauliers.