HAMBURG – Gateway to the New Silk Road

  • More than 2,000 years ago, goods were already traded between China and Europe via the ancient Silk Road. Today, the Chinese government wants to revive these transport routes. The so-called Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) includes, among other things, the establishment of an extensive economic zone between Asia and Europe. It already covers far more areas than the original network of trading routes.

    Initially referred to as “One Belt, One Road”, the initiative comprises of two transport routes – the Silk Road Economic Belt by land and the Maritime Silk Road of the 21st Century by sea. Like the ancient Silk Road, it is a network of routes through which goods could be exchanges by road, rail or ship between Asia, Africa and Europe.

    Since its announcement in 2013, continental rail services have become an integral pillar for the BRI due to the involvement of China. The network of rail corridors now extends from Europe’s western shores to China’s eastern coast. The Chinese government is constantly pushing ahead with its ambitious plans: In 2014, slightly fewer than 800 trains with a freight volume of 25,000 TEU ran along the New Silk Road between China and Western Europe. 2016 brought an increase to 1,700 trains, with a container volume of 145,000 TEU. According to estimates of the International Union of Railways (UIC), 878,000 TEU were transported on the Eurasian rail corridors in 2020.

HHM / Shutterstock

Connections to China

  • Intermodal connections between China and Hamburg

  • In 2020, 232 marketed weekly connections are offered between Hamburg and 20 Chinese destinations. The cities Changchun, Changsha, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, Ganzhou, Harbin, Hefei, Jinan, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Shilong, Suzhou, Weihai, Wuhan, Xiamen, Xi'an, Yantai, Yiwu and Zhengzhou were thus linked to Hamburg by regular train services via the New Silk Road.

    In 2020, around 107,000 TEU were transported by rail between Hamburg and China. The Port of Hamburg handles around 2.6 Mil. TEU in China trade every year. Almost one third of all containers passing through Germany’s largest seaport have China as their destination or origin.

    Intermodal Datenbank

    Updated 2020

The New Silk Road closes the gap between seaborne cargo and air freight

  • Ships, railways, or airplanes – you have to choose among these three means of transport when shipping goods between China and Europe. Costs and time are important factors in this decision. That is why seaborne transport is usually the first choice, since it is the most economical option. However, it can take up to eight weeks for the goods to reach their destination. With only one to two days transport time, choosing air transport is usually the fastest way, but also many times more expensive than maritime transport. The third alternative, transporting goods by rail, thus closes the gap between sea and air transport: Due to the BRI the railway connections between Europe and China have undergone immense improvements and trains only take 12 to 21 days to reach their destinations. The costs also range between those of sea and air freight.

  • Rail operator Felb

  • Hamburg - European hub for the New Silk Road

    Connections between Asia and Europe

iStock gong hangxu

  • News

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    The Port of Hamburg is a top destination for rail services between China and Germany. Since November last year, a new link has become established between Xuzhou and Hamburg. ...
    Rail traffic between China and Hamburg shows positive development
    The People's Republic of China is the most important trading partner of the Port of Hamburg. In 2019 alone, around 2.6 million TEUs were handled in seaborne trade. Almost one-third of all ...
    Face Masks for Hamburg and the Port of Hamburg
    On May 18, Port of Hamburg Marketing received a donation of several thousand protective masks from the government of the Chinese province Henan and the Muyuan Industrial Group Co., Ltd....
    New Shandong-Europe Express links China and Hamburg
    China is the Port of Hamburg’s most important trade partner. Hamburg serves as the gateway to Europe for Chinese goods. Along with handling ocean shipping, the port city is also an important railway hub for transports to and from China. The new Shandong-Europe Express train from Jinan arrived in Hamburg’s Billwerder ...
    Hamburg – European hub for the China Trades
    Hamburg and China have been trading partners by since the 18th century. Hamburg has nurtured a city & port partnership with Shanghai since 1986. Hamburg opened its Liaison Office – HLO – in Shanghai in 1995. This represents Hamburg interests in China and markets the city as a destination for visitors. Both the HLO in Shanghai ...
    New service on New Silk Road: for the first time a single waybill for both rail and ferry

    On Tuesday 12th November, the first goods train from China will arrive on the island of Rügen. The destination at this stage of the journey is the Baltic Sea port of Mukran. From there, the container wagons containing both consumer goods and industrial goods will continue by rail to Hamburg. What is special about this journey is that the train, which started out from Xi’an in Central China at the beginning of November, is
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    Shangdong-Europa Express: Part 1

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    Shandong-Europa Express: Part 2

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    Shandong-Europa Express: Part 3

  • Publications

    The New Silk Road from China to Europe has been established within just a few years. Hamburg plays an important role in this development.
    Port of Hamburg Magazine 2.2019 – Hamburg and China
    Hamburg and China enjoy close ties. The port plays a major role in this. Almost one third of all containers come from, or are going to, China. Around a dozen services connect the People’s Republic with Hamburg. Apart from the sea trade a further strong link for freight traffic is being built: the New Silk Road.

Port of Hamburg Marketing on Hamburg and the New Silk Road

  • Pan Hua, Head of representative office Shanghai

    The Port of Hamburg has always been one of the most important trade hubs in Europe for Chinese companies. Around a dozen liner services link Hamburg directly with Chinese ports, while the continental railway connections have been improved constantly in the last years. Hamburg is now one of the leading destinations for trains travelling to Europe via the New Silk Road. The Hamburg Liaison Office China located in Shanghai actively supports this development and is available for inquiries from interested companies and organisations

  • Pan Hua

  • Axel Mattern, CEO

    Hamburg is Europe’s leading railway port. Naturally, its excellent position as a transport hub also contributes to all rail connections with China. 100,000 TEU or more have been transported via the New Silk Road between various destinations in the People's Republic and Hamburg in the last years. We see that there is further potential for growth. Hamburg and its logistics companies are in any case prepared to further intensify cooperation with partners and friends from China.

  • Axel Mattern