Freight trains maintain China-Europe trade ties amid epidemic


By Gong Shijian, People’s Daily
When China is all out to combat the novel coronavirus epidemic, its freight trains are also busy running on tracks to transport commodities between Chinese and European cities.
By Feb. 21, the China-Europe Chang’an freight trains running between the western Chinese city of Xi’an and European cities had made a total of 297 trips this year, transporting 146,000 tons of commodities, up 1.89 and 1.8 times year on year, respectively.
A green channel has been opened in Xi’an to ensure rapid yet strict checking and loading of commodities before they go through customs formalities, as well as comprehensive disinfection of freight vehicles.
For instance, 5 minutes after the arrival of 7 container trucks from east China’s Shandong province carrying light industrial products at 9:40 am, they went through the first round of epidemic inspection at a designated area near a toll gate, including disinfection, temperature measurement for the drivers, and information registration and verification. Besides, the doors of the truck cabins were all sealed so that the drivers won’t have to go through further checks.
The second round of inspection started two minutes later when the trucks drove into Gangwu Avenue, a road leading to the Xi’an International Trade & Logistics Park. At 10:20 am, these trucks were guided by a government vehicle to the Xi’an Railway Container Center Station, where they received the last round of disinfection and information verification, and unloaded the commodities.
Later, the commodities were loaded to a China-Europe freight train after customs clearance and shipped to Prague, Czech on the afternoon that day.
This process ensures that vehicles leave immediately after unloading and drivers stay in the cabins to avoid human contact. It is a rapid green channel, and also a safety channel of closed monitoring, said Jiao Jianfeng, deputy director of the port bureau under the administrative committee of the Xi’an International Trade & Logistics Park.
The Xi’an International Trade & Logistics Park has rolled out multiple measures together with the customs and railway departments to ensure smooth operation of the China-Europe freight trains while taking all-out efforts to control and prevent the epidemic.
It established a green passage, and promoted highway-railway joint transportation and railway-freight railway joint transportation channels to give full play to the role of the service during the special period.
“In order to ensure smooth operation of the freight trains, we informed our domestic and foreign customers that we have offered gate passes for regular logistics vehicles, and the container trucks from outside the city can also go through all inspection formalities rapidly,” said Yuan Xiaojun, general manager of Xi’an Free Trade Port Construction and Operation Co., Ltd.
So far, the administrative committee of Xi’an International Trade & Logistics Park has issued 183 gate passes for regular logistics vehicles serving the China-Europe freight trains, according to Su Guofeng, deputy director of the committee.
This has guaranteed fast and safe passage of container trucks while ensuring the maximum safety, and reduced the costs of drayage, lifting and storage, Su introduced, disclosing that about 800 yuan ($114) can be saved for each container this way.
By Feb 21, more than 800 trucks had passed safely through the green channel, with a daily peak of 70, Su added.
The efficient and stable operation of the China-Europe Chang’an freight trains has boosted confidence of related companies. The Sweden-based packaging giant Tetra Pak is one of them, who recently decided to shift from maritime transportation to railway transportation.
On Feb. 14, the first batch of 50 containers of Tetra Pak wrapping paper arrived at the German port of Mukran, where they boarded a China-Europe Chang’an freight train for Xi’an. The wrapping paper, whose final destinations are east China’s Jiangsu province and Beijing, will serve as strong support for the Swedish company’s global production.
“While fighting against the epidemic, we’ll further optimize the transportation process and improve the operational efficiency of the China-Europe Chang’an freight rail service, so as to make it high-quality, market-oriented and sustainable, said Sun Yimin, who’s is in charge of the Party working committee office and management committee office of Xi’an International Trade & Logistics Park. It reflects Xi’an’s responsibility and vision as a logistics center, Sun added.

The X8074 China-Europe freight train carrying 86 standard containers of auto parts, departs Yiwu in east China’s Zhejiang province for Minsk, Belarus, Feb. 10, 2020. As the first operational China-Europe freight train after the Chinese New Year holiday, the train marked the resumption of normal operation of freight rail services between China and Europe. Photo by Gong Xianming, People’s Daily Online