This report was prepared by Andrea Antoccia, a student of the University of Roma Tre. Following is the abstract of the paper. The full document can be downloaded in Italian.
The paper examines the rise of intercontinental railways as an alternative freight transport mode in the context of Sino-European trade. The current configuration, development drivers, and growth perspectives of the Eurasian freight rail network are briefly addressed, in an attempt to understand the economic rationale of China’s investments in rail transport under the Belt and Road Initiative. From a critical analysis of the existing literature, it emerges that this mode of transport, despite having experienced unprecedented progress, still appears structurally unable to even approach the cargo volumes recorded by maritime and air transport. It is thus proposed to take into account the extra-economic drivers of Chinese investments in rail infrastructures, focusing in particular on the geopolitical aspirations of a rising global power such as China.