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China Railway Express to Europe Clocks a Decade of Pushing Economic Frontiers

By JAMES ALEXANDERICHONGQING|Mar 19,2021

Chongqing- A China-Europe freight train departed from Tuanjie Village Station of Southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality Friday to celebrate its decade-long operation.

How has the China Railway Express (Yuxinou) to Europe become a national business card? The answer is… This expansive railway corridor has opened a new chapter in the history of international railway transportation and provided far-reaching opportunities for China-Europe trade.

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China Railway Express (Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe) to Europe provided the country’s first rail-based emergency mail service for Europe.

Logistics drive opening-up

Chongqing’s process opening to the outside world requires the expansive channel provided by the China Railway Express to Europe, as the city lacks the geographical advantages of sea borders and short distance water transportation, while air transportation is expensive and land channel support used to be insufficient.

Chongqing can now reach Europe directly through the freight railway, which is faster than sea transport and more cost-effective than air transport. Therefore, the pace of development in large logistics channels has become more resolute in Chongqing.

Looking northwards, Chongqing has opened a direct freight train to Moscow, which has shortened the original rail shipping time from 2 months to a mere eight days.

Southwards, Chongqing has promoted normal operations of the New International Land-Sea Corridor, which offers rail connections to Qinzhou, Guangxi, where freight can be transported worldwide by sea.

Eastwards, Chongqing has opened the Yu-Yong train service directly to Ningbo. When goods arrive in Ningbo, they are transferred as sea freight at Beilun Port and shipped worldwide.

In 2020, China-Europe freight trains’ capacity combined with rail and sea transport exceeded 65,000 TEUs, a year-on-year increase of over 250%. Among these figures, combined transport with the land-sea  trade corridor in western China exceeded 4,500 TEUs, the golden waterway of the Yangtze River surpassed 18,000, and the Chongqing-Ningbo express totaled more than 3,400.

Nowadays, Chongqing logistics not only connects Europe and Asia but has also realized seamless connections between the Belt and Road and the Yangtze River Economic Belt through the linkage between channels.

These feats have transformed Chongqing from a geographically disadvantaged corner into an international logistical hub that radiates influence north, east, south, and west and has become a new frontier in opening-up.

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The railway port of Chongqing Western Logistics Park in Tuanjie Village, Shapingba District.

Channels open trading opportunities

In February this year, the National Medical Products Administration approves Chongqing to increase the registration functions of chemical drugs imported for the first time and is the fourth city after Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou to handle such registrations and the first in western China.

There are still many companies prospering in Chongqing thanks to this channel. For example, the largest international freight company DAV in Denmark set up in Chongqing for international business after the China Railway Express to Europe line opened.

The China Railway Express (Yuxinou) was the first to trial cross-border e-commerce trains and realized the first B2B export train service of this kind. As of 2020, the total quantity of cross-border e-commerce goods dispatched using the China Railway Express to Europe exceeded 7,000 TEUs.

Ba Chuanjiang, director of the Port and Logistics Office of the Chongqing Municipal People’s  Government, stated that logistics-driven channels, channel-driven trade, and trade-driven industry are the central concepts in Chongqing’s opening up the outside world practiced by the China-Europe Railway.

“Channels provide the carrier which essentially serves urban economic development and industrial support services,” said Ba.

The export-oriented economy continued to improve over the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020), as foreign trade imports and exports in Chongqing increased by an average annual rate of 7%, and the total actual use of foreign capital exceeded US$52 billion. Meanwhile, the number of foreign investment market entities reached 6,764, and World Fortune 500 companies settled in the city reached 296.

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A train departs from the Guoyuan Port in Chongqing.

A new level of service

Following years of development, the China Railway Express has become a business card for China on the Belt and Road and an important carrier for nations along the route seeking to integrate into the project actively.

In April 2020, the China Railway Express to Europe launched the China Post service for the first time in China, which allowed Chongqing to assume the important role of transporting international parcels, especially those between China and Europe, and solved the problem of international parcels being stranded in the country due to poor air and sea connections.

In that same year, express railway services transported over 20 million international parcels from various places, ranking first in the country.

In May 2020, China Railway Express to Europe launched a train service for epidemic prevention materials for the first time, transporting 86 TEUs of masks, gowns, gloves, and other epidemic prevention materials worth 13.43 million euros to Poznan, Poland, and subsequently continued to transport them for use in Europe.

In July 2020, the National Development and Reform Commission announced support for five cities across China, including Chongqing, to construct the China Railway Express to Europe distribution center, which added further impetus to the future development of the service.

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