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Shippers Look to Rail, Other Routes to Europe

Shippers are looking for alternate China-to-Europe routes as Houthi terrorist attacks on the Red Sea continue, CNBC reports.

What’s going on: “Air cargo volumes on the major apparel route between Vietnam and Europe increased by 65% in the week ending Jan. 14 when compared to the week prior.… And—while it only represents a very small proportion of containers moved between the Far East and Europe—rail routes via Russia have seen an uptick in interest too.”

Why it’s important: Rail is faster than shipping by ocean and offers cost savings over air transport.

  • The number of shippers sending goods from China through Russia to European countries via rail has risen since the Houthi attacks on Red Sea vessels started late last year, a consolidator group executive told CNBC.
  • “China–Europe rail route bookings were up 37% over the past four weeks,” according to Dutch logistics firm Rail Bridge Cargo.
  • Lunar New Year celebrations, which begin Saturday, are likely to drive this traffic up further.

“Middle corridor”: “Shippers who don’t want to send goods via rail through Russia can use the ‘middle corridor,’ which runs from China through Kazakhstan to Turkey via the Caspian Sea, but this takes around 26 to 29 days.”

  • Inquiries about this route have seen a sizable increase in the past few weeks from customers in Asia and Europe, according to one operator.

Likely to continue: The disruption in the Red Sea is likely to “continue for months or possibly the whole of 2024,” Marco Forgione, director general of the Institute of Export and International Trade, told the news outlet.

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