Want to cut China-Europe transit times by four days?

An 8,000-kilometre rail freight route between Kouvola, Finland, and Zhengzhou, China, is scheduled for opening in the second half of 2017.

Kouvola Innovation, the business development agency of the City of Kouvola, has signed a co-operation agreement with a Kazakh, a Russian and two Chinese railway conglomerates for opening a new rail freight route between Kouvola, Finland, and Zhengzhou, China.


The route is set to reduce rail freight transit times from China to Europe considerably, by up to four days in comparison to the current route between Zhengzhou and Hamburg, Germany.


“It’s a fast route. It takes no more than 10–12 days from Xi’an or Zhengzhou to Kouvola,” tells Simo Päivinen, the development director for logistics and relocation services at Kouvola Innovation. “It’s slightly more expensive than sea transport, but sea transport takes an average of eight weeks.”


“We should be able to conduct the test rides early this year and shift to regular, weekly services in the second half of the year. The train will be 800 metres long, with a capacity of 82 20-foot equivalent units (TEU),” he adds.


A gateway to Europe

The 8,000-kilometre railway is set to create new opportunities for a variety of companies, including e-commerce operators looking for a gateway to Europe. Finland is already renowned for being one of the best locations in the world for server farms, but the railway would also enhance its appeal as a logistics hub.


“It’ll naturally create benefits for the logistics sector but also for manufacturing companies, shopping centres and wholesalers,” lists Päivinen.


Kouvola, he states, is currently capable of unloading a single 800-metre freight train a day. The city, however, has already begun upgrading its railway terminal and building the first large-scale multimodal logistics platform in Finland, after being designated as the country’s only TEN-T core railway terminal by the European Commission in 2015.


“Kouvola is investing rather heavily in its infrastructure in order to become a genuine industrial hub,” says Päivinen.


The multimodal terminal is scheduled for completion by 2020. Preliminary estimates indicate that the terminal will be capable of handling 100,000–200,000 TEUs per annum, representing a substantial increase from the present maximum of 50,000 TEUs.


Picture credits: Kinno