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Shippers turn to Belt and Road trains to beat coronavirus shutdowns

With air and sea freight services disrupted, Europe-Asia rail lines shine

Freight train service from Wuhan, the original center of the COVID-19 outbreak, to Duisburg, Germany resumed on March 28.   © Reuters

HAMBURG, Germany -- With few international flights operating and many cargo ships knocked off course by the coronavirus pandemic, businesses sending goods between Asia and Europe have turned in desperation to trains linked to China's Belt and Road project.

"These days, many European customers are exploring rail freight on the New Silk Road as an alternative and attractive transport mode," Tim Scharwath, chief executive of global freight forwarding at German logistics operator DHL, told the Nikkei Asian Review. "We are seeing a strong increase in volumes in both directions."

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