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Supply Squeeze

China-Europe Rail Lines Become Supply Chain’s Latest Problem

  • Auto, electronics makers seek to shun train freight via Russia
  • More containers threaten to swamp already congested ports
A freight train carrying medical supplies bound for Madrid departs the city of Yiwu, in China’s Zhejiang Province, in June 2020.
A freight train carrying medical supplies bound for Madrid departs the city of Yiwu, in China’s Zhejiang Province, in June 2020.Photographer: Lyu Bin/Xinhua/Getty Images
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More than a million containers set to ride 6,000-plus miles of railway linking Western Europe to Eastern China via Russia are now having to find new routes by sea, adding to costs and threatening to worsen the global supply chain chaos.

With Moscow’s war raging in Ukraine, exporters and logistics firms transporting auto parts, cars, laptops and smartphones are now looking to avoid land routes passing through Russia or the combat zone. Security risks and payment hurdles stemming from sanctions are mounting, as is wariness that customers in Europe could boycott products that used Russian rail.