Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province, is situated at the start of the ancient Silk Road. It is a strategic fulcrum for the Belt and Road construction and enjoys unique advantages in geographical location.
Over the last six years smooth logistics and fine management have enabled the latecomer of the China-Europe freight train service to catch up with the forerunners and produce the fastest growth of freight volume in China.
Driven by the China-Europe freight train service, the Silk Road Economic Belt has become the "golden channel" for trade and commerce.
A China-Europe freight train departs from Xinzhu Station in Xi’an on June 13, 2018. [Photos/sasac.gov.cn]
The China-Europe freight trains of Shaanxi made 1,235 trips in 2018, six times more than the previous, and saw a "blowout" growth in 2018.
The province's first China-Europe freight train linking Xi'an and Almaty, Kazakhstan, made its debut on Nov 28, 2013. With the increasing demand, the train ran once a week at the beginning and now runs three to four times every day, or about 30 times a week.
According to Wu Xiaobin, a manager in charge of the international combined transport business at the Xi'an branch of China Railway Container Transport Corp (CRCT), the exported goods transported through the train service have been expanded to more than 200 varieties in six categories, including industrial raw materials, mechanical equipment, components and parts, and food.
Export of daily necessities, light industrial products and textile products is growing rapidly, Wu added.
A photo taken on April 15 shows the container center of the CRCT Xi'an branch. [Photo/sasac.gov.cn]
The trains not only deliver domestic products abroad, but also bring in foreign goods. In 2016, the province's first China-Europe freight train only took back flour and cooking oil from Kazakhstan on its return journey.
However, during the Spring Festival of this year, Shaanxi held the first China-Europe Spring Festival Shopping Fair.
The trains were loaded with more than 5,000 kinds of products, such as kitchen ware, wine and beverage, maternal and infant supplies, from some 40 countries in Europe and Central Asia when they returned back to the province.
The China-Europe freight train operated 46 return trips in 2017 and 444 last year, growing by 9.6 times.
The X9020 China-Europe freight train departing from Almaty arrives at the Xinzhu Station in Xi'an on Jan 27, 2019. [Photo/sasac.gov.cn]
A staff member shows some honey imported from Kazakhstan via the China-Europe freight train service on Jan 27, 2019. [Photo/sasac.gov.cn]
In 2017, Shaanxi launched four routes for the China-Europe freight trains, including one linking to Central Asia and three to Europe. Last year, the routes were increased to 11, reaching 16 countries and radiating to more than 50 cities in Europe and Asia.
Workers go through the handover procedures before the departure of the China-Europe freight train in Xinzhu Station, Xi'an on April 1, 2019. [Photo/sasac.gov.cn]
In order to ensure efficiency, joint efforts are made by the local customs, container center and railway departments, such as advance custom clearance offering priority entry at the station and extra shifts and hours on holidays by railway workers.
Thanks to the simplified procedures, the uploading and downloading can be cut to two or three days rather than four days, as in the past.
Moreover, automatic management has been realized in the CRCT Xi'an center. Chen Ruizhong, a manager at the center, said another four gantry cranes will be added to the existing four in the second half of this year.
A gantry crane works at the CRCT Xi'an center on April 15. [Photo/sasac.gov.cn]
The trains transport flows of goods from the countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative and bring the "Made in China" products with good quality and favorable prices to the world, facilitating opening-up and win-win development of domestic enterprises and cities.
(Executive editor: Li Shuling)