The shortest rail route to Europe

Blog 17.8.2018

The rail route from China to #smarterFinland is developing fast and holds enormous potential for global trade. Announced this month, Norway and Sweden are the latest to join the rail network.

Connecting China and Europe in 10-12 days, the rail route runs between Xian in China and Kouvola in Finland. It’s an 800 meters long container train that runs once week and is extremely competitively priced compared to even sea cargo, as the route is heavily subsidized by the Chinese government. Timewise the rail route is a huge improvement to sea cargo, which takes between 6 and 8 weeks to reach Finland from China. 

In operation for less than a year, the route has been an enormous success and it’s growing fast. It has already increased frequency from biweekly to weekly trains, and now it has been announced that the city of Narvik in Norway and the city of Haaparanta in Sweden will join the network. This 
will connect all of Northern Europe to China by rail as well as further increase volumes. The route and this development have been welcomed by companies in Northern Europe, as they offer a major competitive advantage for companies looking for fast access to Asian and global markets. 

The reasons behind the success of this route lie in its competitive advantages and the fact that there has long been a demand for a route like this. Compared to the other rail route connecting China and Europe that goes from China to Poland, the one running from Xian to Kouvola is shorter and the train only has to change track width once during the transportation, saving further time. The route from China to Poland is also already transporting in full capacity and facing jams and delays, so it entails little potential for further development. 

The start for this route has been impressive, but the future might look even brighter. As an example of what is already being planned, the Kouvola-Xian route can be used for transportation between Europe and South Korea, Japan or Australia. At the other end, it can be used for transportation to Northern America as Narvik, the northernmost harbor in Norway, is now a part of the network. Stay tuned!