China-Europe freight trains, which feature long-distance transport of large volume of freight between different continents and countries, have seen its transport network extend to 168 cities in 23 European countries and become a global public good widely recognized by countries along its routes. In the first half of this year, China-Europe freight trains witnessed a rise in both its number of trips and quality of services.
Railway operator of Xi’an, capital of northwest China’s Shaanxi province, increased the number of its China-Europe freight trains from 41 to 50 during the first six months of this year. Xi’an continued to rank first in the country in terms of the number of train trips, the volume of goods transported, and the proportion of fully loaded trains.
During the same period, Horgos port and Alashankou port in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region both saw their number of freight train trips to and from Europe and Central Asia exceed 3,000, with an increase in the volume of both imports and exports.
These rising indexes have reflected the rapid development of the China-Europe freight trains. According to data from China State Railway Group, China-Europe freight trains made a record 7,377 trips and sent out 707,000 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) of goods in the first six months of this year, up 43 percent and 52 percent respectively from the same period last year.
On the morning of June 2, a China-Europe freight train fully loaded with treadmills, exercise bikes, sterile syringes and other goods left Zhongding Logistics Park in north China’s Shanxi province for the railway station of Valenton, Paris, France, marking the launch of the first direct China-Europe freight train route linking Shanxi with France.
“The launch of the new route increased the number of China-Europe freight train routes covered by our company’s services to nine. It makes our company more competitive,” said Zhou Zhifei, deputy general manager of Zhongding Logistics Park.
While constantly expanding their routes, operators of China-Europe freight trains have continuously increased the number of train trips. From January to June, Zhongding Logistics Park alone saw 74 outbound trips made by China-Europe freight trains, which sent out 7,148 TEUs of goods, representing a year-on-year growth rate of 48 percent, according to Zhou.
As the variety of goods becomes increasingly rich, the added value of products transported by China-Europe freight trains is getting higher.
In the first half of this year, a total of 1,079 trips were made by China-Europe freight trains departing from east China’s Zhejiang province, according to Chen Dengke, deputy director of Jinhua freight center of China Railway Shanghai Bureau Group Co., Ltd.
The number of containers transported from and to Zhejiang increased by 204.4 percent year on year during the period, and the composition of goods has changed from small commodities to high-tech products like automobiles and photovoltaic power generation equipment, said Chen.
After the outbreak of the COVID-19, export of Guangxi LiuGong Group Co., Ltd., a machinery manufacturer based in Liuzhou city, south China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, was affected for a time due to slow customs clearance procedures at both highway and waterway ports. Fortunately, railway operator of Nanning city, capital of Guangxi, reached out to the company and opened for it a new route linking Liuzhou city with Moscow, Russia.
“China-Europe freight trains can save at least two weeks of transport time compared to our past sea transportation and road transportation,” said Xue Bing, head of the international division of LiuGong Group Co., Ltd.
Grasping well the pain points of clients and addressing difficult problems of the market, China-Europe freight trains have made more than 40,000 trips accumulatively. The ever-growing number of trips comes from the trains’ constantly improving capacity for providing comprehensive services.
In response to the demand for a concentration of goods from different areas before transportation, railway operator of Xi’an launched 15 trans-provincial routes and four local routes to have trains carrying goods from various areas gathered at the China-Europe freight train assembly center in the city and then regrouped before leaving for Western Europe.
Containers with Customs seal are exempted from out-of-box inspection and allowed to be directly loaded onto China-Europe freight trains at the assembly center based on relevant Customs clearance notice, thus significantly improving operating efficiency of the trains.
In recent years, multiple authorities in China have made concerted efforts to improve the Customs clearance efficiency for China-Europe freight trains.
Since the beginning of this year, Manzhouli Railway Station in Manzhouli, north China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region, has realized the sharing of information online with parties involved in the joint inspection and multimodal transport of goods, such as the Customs and freight forwarders, by leveraging its digital port system.
By making detailed plans for the Customs clearance and transportation of China-Europe freight trains, the railway station has managed to shorten the time needed for procedures from declaration to clearance of goods at Customs from about half a day to less than 30 minutes on average.
China-Europe freight trains bear great significance for promoting efforts to strengthen infrastructure construction and improve the construction of transportation networks in countries along their routes, and make railway transportation between Europe and China more stable, said Olaf Krueger, chairman of Germany’s International Rail Freight Business Association (IBS).
With the establishment and improvement of an interactive and complex railway network, trade contacts between Europe and China will be increasingly deepened, which is going to further advance the course of economic globalization and make the results of economic development benefit people in countries and regions along the routes of China-Europe freight trains, according to Krueger.
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