China-Europe freight trains from Wuhan resume services, offer new transportation channel amid COVID-19

By Hua Fang, People’s Daily
The China-Europe freight train X8015 on April 14 arrived in Duisburg, Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia. As the first cargo train departing Wuhan for Europe since the outbreak of COVID-19 nearly three months ago, it marked the resumption of China-Europe freight services in the city.
Loaded on the train were pandemic prevention materials needed by Europe, construction materials for Budapest-Belgrade Railway, as well as auto parts. The cargos were later distributed to France, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland.
The resumption of the cargo services was heartening, said Hendrik Wüst, Minister of Transport of North Rhine-Westphalia at a reception ceremony held for the freight train, adding that the materials from China would be particularly helpful for Germany to fight the pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic plunged some industries into stagnation in European countries, exerting increasing downward pressure on their economy. As a key project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the China-Europe freight services have become an important part of the global transportation system. The resumption of the services will not only create a channel of transportation for the global fight against the disease, but also reduce the impacts from COVID-19 on the industrial and supply chains for both China and Europe.
Wuhan and Duisburg became the first pair of sister cities between China and Germany in 1982, and their relations are brought closer thanks to the freight trains running between them. Duisburg donated medical supplies to Wuhan immediately after the outbreak of COVID-19.
The mayor of Duisburg Sören Link sent a congratulatory message over the train’s arrival, saying his city is making arduous efforts to fight COVID-19, and the normal operation of the freight rail services between China and Europe would offer huge assistance.
The China-Europe freight services make the transportation of medical supplies more convenient, said Chief Executive Officer of Duisport Group Erich Staake, adding that the resumption of the services will significantly improve transportation efficiency, cement logistics cooperation between Duisburg and Wuhan, and boost their economic development.
According to schedule, two trips to Duisburg and one to Wuhan will be made each week following the first train’s arrival.
Feng Haiyang, China’s Consul General in Dusseldorf, said the resumption of the rail services indicated China’s initial progress of epidemic prevention and control, and showcased the country’s solid steps to resume production and keep the global industrial and supply chains stable and unimpeded.
The X8015 rail carrying medical supplies and producer goods needed by Germany and other European countries also signaled the mutual assistance offered by China and Germany to get through the current difficulties, Feng added.

A China-Europe freight train carrying 260,000 items of medical supplies departs for Central Asian countries from a China-Kazakhstan logistics base at Lianyungang Port, east China’s Jiangsu province, April 14, 2020. Wang Jianmin/People’s Daily Online

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