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Monday, July 4, 2022

Why companies are turning to long-haul trains

The train was carrying more than three dozen 40-foot containers, each stuffed with goods such as party balloons and car parts, from Xi’an to Paris. It had traveled through China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany and France, making the journey in five and a half weeks.

“Five years ago, there were eight trains per day between China and Europe, now there are 18, 20 trains per day,” said Xavier Wanderpepen, director of the China-Europe freight trains at French national railway company SNCF.

Rail shipments are especially popular with companies that need to move perishable or time-sensitive goods and don’t want to pay for air cargo. Containers can travel between Europe and China via rail in as few as 20 days, while a journey by sea can take up to 70 days with disruptions caused by the pandemic. But rail has its limitations: trains cannot carry nearly as many containers as ships,…

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