Author: Richard Pomfret
Abstract: Rail links between China and Europe are typically analysed in the context of China's Belt and Road Initiative, focusing on China's economic rise and the implications for international relations. This paper argues that establishment of the China‐Europe Landbridge predated the BRI and has been market‐driven, as service‐providers identified and responded to demand for efficient freight services along pre‐existing railway lines. Governments’ role was trade facilitating, i.e. reducing delays and costs at border crossing points, rather than investing in hard infrastructure. Service‐providers responded by linking European and Asian value chains (e.g. in automobiles and electronic goods) and reducing costs for traders shipping between China and Europe. The Eurasian Landbridge provides a case study of servicification as a component of increased trade in the twenty‐first century.