More than 2,000 years ago, merchants of different nations crossed the desert by camel and rested in important hubs along the Silk Road.
Nowadays, with the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), trains have replaced camels for transporting commodities along the route.
Supporting that transport is a collection center for the Sino Euro Cargo Railway program in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.
The collection center was built by Urumqi Branch of China Railway Fifth Survey And Design Institute Group Co Ltd and serves as a key pivot for the trade among countries involved in the BRI.
A freight train is loaded with containers. [Photo by Fan Ke/News Center, SASAC]
Xinjiang, China’s inland transit hub facing international markets, is located in the core area of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the overland Eurasian Continental Bridge. It borders on eight countries, more than any other Chinese province or region; its 5,600 km border is China's longest, making up fully one quarter of the country's total land border. It also boasts the shortest distance to Central and West Asia and Europe among all Chinese provinces.
Thanks to the region’s geographical advantages, the China Railway Urumqi Railway Administration Group Co Ltd (former Urumqi Railway Bureau) cooperated with a group of domestic and foreign enterprises to initiate running of the China-Europe (China-Asia) freight trains, which depart from the Urumqi Collection Center.
Workers at the collection center discuss development of the project. [Photo by Fan Ke/News Center, SASAC]
The Urumqi Collection Center is located in the south of the Urumqi West Railway Station and is adjacent to the Urumqi International Land Port Area now under construction. It offers one-stop service including train marshalling, loading and unloading, customs supervision, trans-shipment and customs clearance.
The first phase of the collection center was put into use on Nov 29, 2016. And planning for the second phase has been completed.
More and more Chinese products are departing from the center on the China-Europe freight trains. Not only steel, building materials, mechanical and electrical products and tomato sauce from Xinjiang, but also specialties from other parts of China are sold in Central Asia and Europe.
A freight forwarder in Hangzhou says it delivers more than 50 carriages of goods to Central Asia every month.
A vice manager of the company's combined transport department said that the company has improved its competitiveness and cut logistics costs thanks to the collection center.
The freight yard of the collection center [Photo by Fan Ke/News Center, SASAC]
The Urumqi Collection Center not only moves Chinese products to Europe and countries involved in the BRI, but also promotes interconnection and interchange among them.
The Sino Euro Cargo Railway program now has 19 routes between Xinjiang and 24 cities in 17 Central Asian and European countries. It takes the trains 40 hours to get to Kazakhstan, 72 hours to arrive in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan; eight days to travel to Russia, 16 days to reach the Netherlands and 19 days to roll into Italy.
Containers are ready for delivery in the freight yard of the collection center. [Photo/sasac.gov.cn]
The China-Europe freight trains have made 1,230 journeys, increasing to an average of three per day.
In the future, the collection center will further optimize the arrangement plan and improve the trains’ efficiency and services to expand their international presence and facilitate Belt and Road construction.
(Executive editor: Hao Wen)