China-Europe freight trains lead countries onto fast track of win-win cooperation

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China-Europe freight trains lead countries onto fast track of win-win cooperation

The number of China-Europe freight train trips in 2022 has reached 10,000 on Sunday, 10 days earlier than last year, data from the China State Railway Group Co., Ltd. showed, reported xinhua.

Offering a reliable channel for trade and economic cooperation, especially during the pandemic, the flagship project for interconnectivity has enhanced regional opening-up, expanded economic and trade exchanges, and improved people's well-being in countries along the routes.

PROMINENT FIGURES

Starting operations in 2011, the China-Europe freight train services have witnessed booming development, especially since the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative. It has established a new logistics channel between Asia and Europe that operates around the clock.

Total annual train trips surged from 1,702 in 2016 to 15,183 last year, official figures showed.

With 82 routes reaching Europe, the trains now reach 196 cities in 24 European countries, transporting more than 50,000 types of goods including IT products, automobiles and parts, clothes, grain, wines, coffee beans, and timber.

China has made solid efforts to increase the transport capacity of the trains by upgrading domestic transport channels and coordinating infrastructure improvements with overseas railways.

In 2022, the average daily freight volume on the eastern route for the China-Europe freight train services surged 41.3 percent from 2020, and that of the western and central routes rose 20.7 percent and 15.2 percent, respectively.

By the end of July, the total number of train trips had surpassed 57,000, with shipments of 5.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units of goods worth nearly 300 billion U.S. dollars.

With such a large carrying capacity, the green, low-carbon and safe train service has become "a passage of life" amid the pandemic.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, some 109,000 tons of anti-pandemic products had been sent to Europe through the train service as of the end of July. While sea and air transportation were hit hard, it effectively guaranteed the stability of international industrial and supply chains.

Moreover, the train trip only costs one-fifth of air transportation and takes a quarter of the time required by shipping.

WIN-WIN RESULTS

Now a flagship project under the Belt and Road Initiative, the train services have grown into an exemplar of win-win cooperation and common prosperity, and brought tangible fruits to people along the routes.

While China's inland places see their export-oriented industries flourish, numerous cities along the routes are enjoying the opportunities offered by the freight trains.

For Germany's Duisburg, the China-Europe freight train services have helped revive its status as an international logistics hub.

Situated in the Ruhr area in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, Duisburg used to be known for coal and steel production, which resulted in serious environmental pollution.

The city was determined to restructure its economy, pivoting it away from iron and steel production to logistics and services.

However, the transformation bid hit a snag, and Duisburg was looking for a way out when the start of the China-Europe freight train services provided an opportunity.

With the steady growth of the China-Europe freight train services, businesses in Duisburg began to pick up.

So far, China-Europe freight trains connect Duisburg with an increasing number of Chinese cities such as Chongqing, Wuhan, Xi'an and Shenzhen.

In 2021, the weekly trips made by China-Europe freight trains hit a record high of 70, showed data from the Duisport, the ownership and management company of the Port of Duisburg.

The China-Europe freight train services have been growing rapidly and maintained a strong momentum, Duisport CEO Markus Bangen told Xinhua, adding that the cooperation between Germany and China is mutually beneficial and he looks forward to widened bilateral cooperation.

Meanwhile, the operation of the freight trains has promoted people-to-people exchanges and cultural communication among the countries along the route.

As an important destination of the China-Europe freight trains in Europe, Duisburg has become a gateway for people from Germany and China to better understand each other.

A growing number of Chinese companies, students and restaurants are turning up in Duisburg.

Markus Teuber, commissioner for China affairs of the Mayor's Office of Duisburg, disclosed that the number of Chinese companies in Duisburg has been on the rise since 2014 and Duisburg is home to over 100 Chinese companies now.

GLOBAL RECOGNITION

As a growing and stabilizing force in global industrial and supply chains, China-Europe freight train services have become a robust global public good, winning recognition from global observers.

"From the perspectives of efficiency, environmental protection and the transport needs of some special cargoes, the development of the China-Europe freight trains in recent years has provided a good choice for logistics transportation and helped maintain the stability of the supply chain," said Lars Anke, chief representative for the Asia-Pacific from HHLA, a leading European logistics company.

"The China-Europe freight trains will share a significant portion of the logistics system," said Anke.

The China-Europe freight train service is crucial to Mongolia because it boosts foreign exchange inflows into its economy, said Amarbayasgalan Altanshagai, head of the container freight transportation division of Ulan Bator Railway company, Mongolia's official railway operator.

"The China-Europe freight train service via the territory of Mongolia is very important for the Mongolian economy, because all fees of the freight train service are paid in foreign currencies," which increases its foreign exchange reserves, said Altanshagai.

The China-Europe freight trains have a series of significant advantages, and there is huge potential for trade between China and Finland by rail, said Ville Skinnari, Finnish minister for development cooperation and foreign trade.

Finland welcomes more freight train connections with China, and hopes to become a leading hub between China and Europe with its existing advantages in transportation and logistics, said Skinnari.

"Our government is happy to see increased cooperation between Finnish and Chinese companies through the freight trains," the minister said. "Increased connectivity between the two countries is very welcome."

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