China-Europe freight trains boost interconnectivity, mutual benefits
BEIJING -- The total number of China-Europe freight train trips has topped 50,000, as a cargo train left the city of Chengdu in southwest China for Nuremberg, Germany, on Saturday.
The value of goods transported by the cargo service skyrocketed from 8 billion U.S. dollars in 2016 to 74.9 billion U.S. dollars in 2021, surpassing a ninefold increase, said China State Railway Group Co., Ltd.
During the six-year period, the number of train services recorded an average annual growth of 55 percent after all railway routes were merged into the China-Europe freight train service brand and given blue branding in June 2016.
With 78 routes planned, the trains now reach 180 cities in 23 European countries, transporting more than 50,000 types of goods including IT products, automobiles and parts, chemicals, and mechanical and electronic products, according to the company.
Since it began operations in 2011, the China-Europe freight train service has served as a crucial link for trade and economic cooperation, propelling interconnectivity and bringing mutual benefits to countries along the routes.
In a smart factory owned by the Chinese equipment manufacturer Sany Group in the Liangjiang New Area of the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing, large excavators have rolled off the assembly line and been loaded onto a China-Europe freight train heading toward Central Asian and European markets.
In the eyes of Li Bing, general manager in charge of Sany Group's business in the southwestern region, major railway channels such as the China-Europe freight train service have brought Chongqing closer to the rest of the world. "We can better expand the Central Asian and European markets based in the municipality," he said.
Once faced with logistics disadvantages, inland Chinese cities such as Chongqing and Chengdu are now emerging as industrial bases for the electronic information, automobile and equipment manufacturing sectors, as global investors voted with their feet after the railway launch.
Agnieszka Maliszewska, director of the Polish Chamber of Milk, said that the export expansion of Polish dairy products to China has much to do with the fast logistics between Poland and China. "We are very happy because it is a very fast and good solution for dairy products and their producers," he said.
As of Saturday, more than 4.55 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of goods worth a total of 240 billion U.S. dollars have been transported by China-Europe freight trains.
Facing the COVID-19 pandemic, the safe and efficient transport offered by the China-Europe freight train service has helped stabilize global supply chains while offering a lifeline for the distribution of anti-virus materials.
Official data shows that since the pandemic began, over 100,000 tonnes or 13.62 million units of anti-pandemic supplies have been transported by freight trains to European countries including Germany, Poland and Belgium.
By Jan. 19, the city of Wuhan had sent out 11 China-Europe freight trains this year, transporting a total of 921 tonnes of COVID-19 prevention goods.
Looking ahead, the China State Railway Group is working to improve its overseas network by opening new routes that travel across the Caspian Sea, the Baltic Sea, as well as countries such as Ukraine and Finland.
And the China-Europe freight train service is set to play an even bigger role as countries along the routes seek higher-quality cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative.
Official data showed that the total imports and exports between China and the European Union gained 27.5 percent in 2021 to reach 828.11 billion U.S. dollars. China remains the EU's largest trading partner, while the EU is China's second largest trading partner.