New beginning: Shanghai Express arrives in Hamburg

The first container block train from Shanghai reached the DUSS terminal in Hamburg on October 25. It is to be followed by many other westbound, and also eastbound trains, as it lauds in the beginning of a new corridor between China and Germany.
Although Hamburg is already well-connected to China by rail, Shanghai is a new stop in the New Silk Road. It is therefore a very welcome new service, dubbed the Shanghai-Express and operated by DB Cargo Eurasia and Shanghai Orient Silkroad Intermodal Co. Ltd.

Official welcome

The first train was officially welcomed in Hamburg in the presence of two deputy Mayors of Shanghai, Zhang Wei and Zong Ming, as well as Peter Tschentscher, Hamburg’s First Mayor. “I am delighted that with the ‘Shanghai-Express’, a direct freight train service between Hamburg and Shanghai has now commenced. Hamburg and Shanghai have been partner cities for 35 years”, Tschentscher said.

“We cooperate especially in trade and industry, but also in science and research, in education and culture. This new container train service brings Hamburg and Shanghai closer together. It is an important addition to German-Chinese trade routes”, he added.

Shanghai Express in Hamburg

On transit

The first train departed Shanghai on 28 September. Although the journey should take 16-18 days, the train was delayed due to floods in mid-western China that also impacted the country’s railway network. After leaving China, the train crossed Kazakhstan and Belarus to enter the EU via Małaszewicze in Poland. From there, it made its way to Hamburg.

The first westbound train carried fifty 40-ft containers loaded with clothing, shoes, glassware, automotive parts, photovoltaic equipment, cooking utensils, furniture, lamps and other consumer goods. TONG Jisheng, chairman of the operator, expects to offer the train’s return run from Hamburg to Shanghai within about one month.

With the service becoming regular, there will be one train departure per week. Yet, in the long term, frequency will be boosted to between two and three runs per week. According to the operator, departures until the end of this year are already fully booked.


Around 2.4 million standard containers, or TEUs, are handled annually in the China trade in the Port of Hamburg. Almost every third container crossing its quay walls is bound for China or originates there.

Rail offers an alternative to sea and air transport. Last year, over 230 weekly services were marketed between Hamburg and 20 destinations in the People’s Republic. Further connections from Shijiazhuang in the province of Hebei and Wuhei in Gansu have been added this year. In 2020, around 107,000 TEU were transported between China and Hamburg by rail.

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