China via Spain
Latin America may soon be closer to China, thanks to a rail link with Spain.
The first train arrived in Madrid earlier this month from Yiwu – a major wholesale center near Shanghai – after a trip of 13,000 kilometers (8,000 miles), the world’s longest rail route.
The Spanish connection, whose frequency will depend on demand, is operated by Swiss-based InterRail Services and DB Schenker Rail, Europe’s largest rail freight company, with headquarters in Frankfurt.
Trans Eurasia Logistics, a joint venture between Deutsche Bahn AG, Europe’s biggest tail company, and Russian Railways, currently connects China with several European destinations, including Hamburg, Europe’s third biggest port.
All operations use mainly Chinese trains and crews, while logistics companies deal with customers, and negotiate the right to use tracks in China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany and France, as well as Spain.
The first Yiwu-Madrid train carried 82 containers, with close to 1,500 tonnes of cargo.
Container ships traveling between China and Europe routinely carry 10,000 containers or more.
On other hand, rail service between China and Western Europe takes three weeks, little more than half the time of ocean freight.
China is Spain’s third-biggest source of imports, worth close to $100 billion in 2013.