Part of the success of the New Silk Road are the attractive freight rates for rail freight between China and Europe. Particularly eastbound traffic enjoys favourable tariffs. However, the tariffs depend on subsidies, market mechanisms and operation efficiency. Safeguards are need to maintain this competitive freight pricing system.
The Belt and Road Initiative was announced in China during 2013 by the leader Xi Jinping. Investment in a rapidly growing network of railway connections between China and Europe, gave the transport of freight along the old Silk Road trading routes a major boost.
Between 2013 and 2016 cargo traffic quintupled in weight. In the first half of this year the value of freight carried by train increased by 144 per cent over the previous year. Especially western companies are getting involed, as they are starting to see value in moving freight by rail, rather than via the conventional deep sea route.