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The China-Europe Railway Express continues to show strong momentum in facilitating cross-border trade this year, according to the latest figures from the Chinese railway operator.

Data released by China Railway on Tuesday shows that from January to November, the cross-border freight train service handled more than 16,000 trips, transporting more than 1.7 million TEUs of goods, a year-on-year growth of 7 percent and 19 percent, respectively. It notes that the transportation volume already exceeds the total amount for last year.

There are five hub cities for the railway express across the country – Chongqing, Chengdu, Xi’an, Zhengzhou and Urumqi. And the Chang’an freight train of Xi’an, which went into operation in November 2013, has handled the most trips.

“Over the past decade, the Chang’an railway express has completed over 20,000 trips, and the transport route has grown from one to 17,” said Yuan Xiaojun, general manager of Xi’an Free Trade Port Construction and Operation Company.

A China-Europe Railway Express train travels in Xi'an, northwest China's Shaanxi Province. /Courtesy of Xi'an International Port District Government

A China-Europe Railway Express train travels in Xi’an, northwest China’s Shaanxi Province. /Courtesy of Xi’an International Port District Government

A China-Europe Railway Express train travels in Xi’an, northwest China’s Shaanxi Province. /Courtesy of Xi’an International Port District Government

Xi’an, the capital city of northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, is well known as the ancient capital of 13 dynasties and the starting point of the ancient Silk Road. Today, it is still a vital transportation hub in the country.

Yuan told CGTN that there have been continuous improvements in transport efficiency and an increasingly diverse range of goods.

“Initially, it took 15 to 18 days to reach Germany. Now the travel time has been reduced to about 10 days,” said Yuan. “Our freight trains are almost 100 percent safe and reliable. This has won the trust from a growing number of clients, from both home and abroad.”

He added that when the service was just launched, the exported products were mainly equipment such as brick-making machines and petroleum machinery. Now the categories have expanded to new energy vehicles, solar photovoltaic panels and consumer electronics.

Goods to be exported to European countries are being loaded at the Xi'an International Port. /Courtesy of Xi'an International Port District Government

Goods to be exported to European countries are being loaded at the Xi’an International Port. /Courtesy of Xi’an International Port District Government

Goods to be exported to European countries are being loaded at the Xi’an International Port. /Courtesy of Xi’an International Port District Government

Shaanxi Konka Intelligent Home Appliance Company’s products are popular with the European market. In 2022, it exported 35,000 washing machines to countries including Germany, France and Italy, which were transported via the freight train. 

Chen Zhao, general manager of the company, said the volume of this single product is expected to reach 500,000 this year. “In the past, through joint sea-and-rail transportation, it usually took about 45 days to reach Europe. Now, it only needs about two weeks.”

Currently, the express connects more than 200 cities in 25 European countries. Many countries along the route are also seeing the benefits it has brought.

“More than 80 percent of the container railway routes from China to Europe pass through Belarus. We’re also taking this opportunity to send trains to Chinese cities such as Xi’an, Chengdu and Chongqing. Over the past 10 years, our trade turnover has been steadily growing, which contributes to the development of our bilateral ties,” said Dzmitry Yemelyanau, consul general of Belarus’ Consulate General in Chongqing.

A China-Europe Railway Express train sets out from southwest China's Chongqing. /Courtesy of Chongqing Yuxinou Logistics Company

A China-Europe Railway Express train sets out from southwest China’s Chongqing. /Courtesy of Chongqing Yuxinou Logistics Company

A China-Europe Railway Express train sets out from southwest China’s Chongqing. /Courtesy of Chongqing Yuxinou Logistics Company

Overseas operators say they are optimistic about the freight service’s future.

“We will do everything that makes the railway stay competitive in terms of rates, transit time and quality service, so the industry will still search for such a solution and bring their goods by railway between all countries on the Eurasian corridor,” Arthur Ballardt, CEO of Germany-based Rail Transportation Service Broker, told CGTN.

During the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in October, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that China will speed up high-quality development of the China-Europe Railway Express. And the country’s top economic planner has proposed a series of concrete ideas towards the goal.

“We will jointly promote the informatization, digitalization and intelligent construction of the express, and actively explore and develop new models such as trains for people-to-people exchanges and tourism,” Cong Liang, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, said at a recent press conference.

Cong added that more environmentally friendly technologies will also be applied to the route, paving the way for greener travel.

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