China's New Silk Road: Trans-continental rail links boost trade
2018-07-10 14:13:00

Interconnectivity between China and Europe is a major part of the Belt and Road Initiative. It's also been stressed many times during premier Li's trip to Europe. Freight trains are taking the lead in this connectivity and CGTN went to meet some of the people involved in this massive project linking the two continents. Timothy Ulrich has more.

Linking 48 Chinese cities with 42 destinations in 14 European countries, the railway network transports millions of goods between the two continents each week. The benefits are visible on market shelves.

LI CHAOJIE, TRAIN MAINTAINER CHINA RAILWAY WUHAN GROUP "The freight trains have brought back a lot of goods, like cheese and wine from France, beef and beer from Germany, milk from Belarus and oil from Russia. Now we can easily buy these goods in the supermarket and they're cheap and of good quality. Our special products are also transported abroad, like oranges from Yichang and dumplings from Henan. And just recently, crayfish from Hubei province were sent to Russia on our freight trains."

There have been regular freight trains between China and Europe for seven years and the routes are expanding. But in 2011, there was just one, connecting the Chinese city Chongqing and Duisburg in Germany. Jiang Tong was the first driver on that line. He says the changes are impressive.

JIANG TONG, DRIVER CHINA RAILWAY CHENGDU GROUP "When we launched the service at first there was only one train a week. Now every week there are 10 trains or more. The increasing amount of freight means more shipments and more popularity in countries along the route.

Most of those countries are involved in China's Belt and Road Initiative, the new silk road that plans to reshape global trade. Southwest China's Chongqing city is actively engaging itself in this mega project and has seen changes in its trade structure.

ZHANG WEI, ENGINEER AT SALES DEPARTMENT CHINA RAILWAY CONTAINER TRANSPORT CORP. LTD. "In the past, there was a much bigger volume of domestic Chinese shipments in Chongqing than international shipments. Now it's totally the opposite. International shipments play the major role, accounting for more than 80% of our railway transport in the Chongqing region."

Chongqing is aiming for 1,000 round trips this year and that's just part of 5,000 planned for the country as a whole by 2020. As more countries express willingness to build the Belt and Road, it shouldn't be hard to reach that goal.

Source:CGTN Editor:Hiram