China-Europe freight trains ensures unimpeded transportation channel of medical supplies amid COVID-19

By Yu Yang, Jiang Bo, Tan Wujun, Liu Ge, People’s Daily
China-Europe freight trains witnessed growth in both the number of trips made and cargo volume in the first quarter this year, serving as an effective logistics channel stabilizing international supply chain, facilitating international cooperation, and expediting the transportation of preventative materials amid COVID-19.
They sent a total of 1,440 tons of epidemic containment materials to Poland, Spain, Lithuania and other European destinations which served as transfer stations and distributed the supplies further afield.
On April 23, a 50-container China-Europe freight train arrived in Poland, carrying 350 tons of masks, protective suits, as well as commodities such as accessories, garments, shoes and hats. The China-Europe freight trains not only brought preventative and productive materials to Europe amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but also injected confidence in local enterprises, said Philip Grzelak, CEO of Hatrans Logistics, the operator of the freight service in Poland.
The production of many Polish enterprises relied on the spare parts sent by the China-Europe freight trains, said Grzelak, adding that the freight service was the only available logistics channel during the coronavirus outbreak as most of the major transportation routes were forced to suspend service. He believes that Poland and Europe can maintain stable economic and trade ties with China through the China-Europe freight rail.
The advantages of the service are more conspicuous given the spread of the virus, and it’s hoped that more Polish and European products can reach China through the service, the CEO told People’s Daily, saying the rail link will play a unique role in the recovery of Eurasian economy.
According to statistics, 96 trips had been made to Europe by the service between Jan. 1 and April 4 from Yiwu in east China’s Zhejiang province, known for its small commodity trade and vibrant market, sending a total of 8,114 standard containers, up 70.2 percent from a year ago.
The robust growth achieved amid the pandemic in Q1 indicated the rapid recovery of Chinese economy, which is of great significance for stabilizing global logistics chain, promoting cross-border circulation of goods and services, and revitalizing the confidence for international trade development, said Grzelak.
On April 12, Lithuania’s capital Vilnius received the first China-Europe freight train carrying postal parcels. The train, departing from China’s Chongqing municipality, took 260 tons of mails and medical supplies.
Minister of Transport and Communications of Lithuania Jaroslav Narkevic remarked that the arriving postal train from China brought medical materials that were in dire need in Europe, and opened a new, stable and effective logistics channel. The service is expected to inject new energy into China-Europe relations, he added.
YUXINOU (ChongQing) Logistics Co., LTD, the operator of the freight service in Chongqing, said its service plan of May will be made in advance, and the company is planning to expand the daily volume to Europe by 50 tons.
On April 6, a China-Europe freight train arrived in Madrid, Spain from Yiwu after a 16-day trip stretching 13,052 kilometers. Apart from routine cargos such as auto parts and small commodities, it also carried medical supplies donated by China to the Spanish government.
The Spanish branch of the YXE Trading Service Group, the operator of the rail line, will offer free international rail transportation and relevant services for all medical donations to Spain from organizations, overseas Chinese groups and individuals, so as to assist the concerted efforts to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic, said Carlos Santana, general manager of the YXE’s Spanish branch. He believes it bears huge significance to have a reliable international trade and logistics channel when global transportation is under impacts.
At present, European countries are seeing huge demand for medical materials, and the China-Europe freight trains serve as a reliable, stable and effective solution. Santana noted that the operation of the service plays a vital role in the recovery of Spain’s economy.
He said his company receives a large number of phone calls from the customers everyday asking to import commodities and supplies from China via the service so as to maintain the stability of the supply chain and the operation of enterprises. Besides, many of them are hoping to continue to expand export to China through the service, he added.
Santana expressed sincere gratitude to China for the country’s generous help to Spain amid the pandemic, saying the China-Europe freight trains are a bridge of the friendship between the two countries.
He told People’s Daily that the fragmented transportation adopted by the service which frees logistics personnel from quarantine inspection, has become an important method to guarantee the trade between China and Europe, as well as to ensure the joint efforts maintaining unimpeded channel of medical supplies in amidst of the COVID-19 outbreak.

A China-Europe freight train carrying electronic and machinery products departs from the international railway port of Chengdu, southwest China’s Sichuan province, March 27, 2020. Photo by Bai Guibin, People’s Daily Online

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