Steel Caravans Running on “Belt and Road”


On the afternoon of October 30, the 1030th trip of China Railway Express to Europe (Chang’an) departs from Xi’an for Riga, Latvia


On March 26, the first return loaded trip of “Chang’an” arrives in Xi’an Port

Five years ago, with a long hoot of siren, starting from the Xi’an Port, “Chang’an” loaded with cargoes began its maiden international trip for Almaty, Kazakhstan through the new Eurasian Continental Bridge. Over the past 5 years, driven by the “Chang’an” express service, Xi’an International Trade and Logistics Park has carried out the building of port platform, logistics corridor, industrial highland and free trade zone, presenting the pleasing signs of fast growth, with “Chang’an” becoming the “Leading Train”, “Golden Train” and “Train of Happiness”.

“Steel Caravans” shine over the new Silk Road and “Chang’an” becomes a “Leading Train” of full openness

Back in Han Dynasty in China’s history, Zhang Qian made his diplomatic trips to the Western Regions, opening a corridor that connected Chang’an, the then capital city of China in the east and various countries of Central Asia in the west and brought about prosperity to both sides with the caravans based on camel transportation.

Nowadays, the “Chang’an” of China Railway Express to Europe that starts from the Xi’an Port has solved the long-term problem of “connection but without communication” that has existed in the new Eurasian Continental Bridge, ushering in a “Countdown Period” for the cargo transportation between Xi’an and Central Asia.

Time flies, the erstwhile camel caravans in the Silk Road have become “Steel Caravans”, the leading train of full openness in the “Belt and Road Initiative”.

During the period of January to October, 2018, a total of 1,036 trips of “Chang’an” had been in operation, a 5.3 times as many as the figure for the whole year of 2017, with 1.0545 million tons of cargoes carried, or a 4.5 times as many as the quantity of the whole year of 2017; at the total value of US$1.49 billion, or a 7.8 times as many as that of the whole year of 2017. The loading rate was up to 99.9%, thus achieving three No. 1 rankings in China in terms of loading rate, freight volume and quantity of actual run.

The raised capacity of “Chang’an” effectively enhanced the fast growth of trading between Shaanxi Province of China and Central Asia. Over the first three quarters, the total trading volume of Shaanxi with Central Asia reached 760 million yuan, an increase of 71.2% over the same period last year, of which, the export accounted for 640 million yuan while the import 120 million yuan, growing 88.1% and 15.1% respectively. With the aid of “Chang’an”, Shaanxi Province and Xi’an City are now integrated with world economic and trading system. The three-tier logistic corridor covering international, domestic and regional sea, land and air transport has been initially formed, which will help products “Made in China” to “go out” and featured goods of foreign countries to “come in”, and promote the gathering of resources and development of trades.

According to Feng Jianjun, General Manager of Shaanxi Siying Electronics Co., Ltd., his company had been developed in Shenzhen of south China’s Guangdong Province and moved to Xi’an in entirety last year, and the reason for relocation is to take advantage of the express service of “Chang’an”. He also said that the company with a large base of clients in South Korea had made Qingdao in east China’s Shandong Province the point of export in its early days; that now with the increase of railway network of “Chang’an”, the company now is enabled to increase its presence in countries of Central Asia and even Europe along the “Belt and Road”, taking the transport advantage of “Chang’an”.

“Chang’an” not only opens the westward multimodal transport corridor of Silk Road but also releases more powerful magnetic force, which has attracted 15 provinces of China such as Gansu, Ningxia, Zhejiang to make collection and distribution of goods in the Xi’an Port, thus diversifying the means of allocation of resources for the western China region, promoting it to be integrated with the building of the “Belt and Road Initiative”.

So far, “Chang’an” has provided 11 main lines connecting Xi’an to destinations in Central Asia and Europe, set up a number of overseas warehouses, opened “five fixed scheduled trains” with seaports along east China coast such as Qingdao Port, initially shaping the trading and logistic system for Silk Road that features connection of Europe and Asia, joint transport of sea and air, global influence.

Gathering industries and building platforms “Chang’an” is the “Golden Train” for trade prosperity

In recent years, “Chang’an” has opened a safe, efficient and convenient golden corridor for international import and export trades, reducing the operating cost and increasing the competitiveness of related enterprises. The countries and regions along the Silk Road also take the fast train of fast growth of China and have increased the speed for taking up industrial relocation, making the train a “Golden Train” leading to trade prosperity.

On April 1, 2017, the China Railway Express to Europe opened the line of Xi’an to Budapest (Hungary) , which runs out of China at Alashankou Port in Xinjiang, passes through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland and Hungary, covering a distance of 9,312 km, on a schedule of 17 days, 30 days less than the export transport to Europe from Shaanxi via sea-rail the combined transport, thus shortening the distance between Xi’an and the European countries.

The successful opening of China Railway Express to Europe (Xi’an-Budapest) has made possible the combined domestic and international cargo transport connecting Yiwu, Xi’an and Budapest, highlighting the hub role of the Xi’an Port in the international transport. At the same time, the win-win outcome of cooperation between Xi’an and Zhejiang business community is also achieved, opening a brand-new logistic corridor for small commodities of Yiwu and other products “Made in China”.

Apart from that, “Chang’an” also provides a “Green Channel” for local business. Since this year, Xi’an International Trade and Logistics Park has adopted a new model featuring “combination of shipping space and order” of railway service intended for bulk goods, reducing the costs for customs declaration and clearance more than 90%, cutting the time and financial cost for businesses. The practice was promoted by the State Council as the successful experience of the fourth batch of pilot free trade zones to the whole country.

By means of China Railway Express to Europe, Shaanxi Aiju Group establishes direct cooperation with its counterparts of Kazakhstan by setting up a grain warehouse of 50,000 tons in capacity and a grease refinery of 300,000 tons in capacity, and formed a total industrial chain growth model which covers local growing, processing and transport of crops in the form of order agriculture.

“The opening of the railway express service provides a new opportunity for us enterprises, making us easily accessible to the sourcing of raw materials,” said Jia Heyi, Chairman of Aiju Group, adding that he himself has witnessed a great number of new changes in the building of corridor of the “Belt and Road Initiative” in the cooperation carried out in recent years. “The railway express increases the frequency to bring more opportunities for enterprises. Grain and oil products rely heavily on logistics, we are expected to reach the quantity of 200,000 tons in capacity, and the figure will grow to 300,000 tons next year and be up to 1 million tons in the near future, so it won’t be possible without the fast railway service.”

In 2018, focusing on the “small goal” that will provide 1,000 trips of “Chang’an” express railway service, Xi’an International Trade and Logistics Park has taken the PPP model, defined the operating principle of “fully following the market with specific line for intended firm”, and had competent logistic business to be involved in the operation of the railway service in the form of contracting the line service.

Xi’an International Trade and Logistics Park has worked with railway authorities and customs office to raise the efficiency of the express railway service and cutting cost of operation for businesses; it has also worked with Beidou navigation system to develop the “Beidou in-transit supervision system” that is capable of providing real-time supervision over goods in transit, with data of light, temperature and humidity fully covered, to increase the safety of cargo transport; the “delay risk” insurance for China Railway Express was created to help guarantee the interests of related businesses.

“‘Chang’an’ has reached a shipping capacity of 1.05 million tons so far, with cargoes ranging from the usual garments, mechanical and electronic products to nearly what not. The operation of the China Railway Express has opened a corridor to the western region, bringing the growth of trading and fast collection of industries, as well as the settlement of many firms right here,” said Sun Yimin, Director of the Administrative Committee of Xi’an International Trade and Logistics Park.

Local people are able to “buy, sell and enjoy globally” and “Chang’an” is the “Train of Happiness” carrying good life

“It was not so easy to buy imported milk powder, but now it is easy!” said a Ms. Liu with emotion. In the recent visit by this reporter to the Ulife section of Xi’an International Trade and Logistics Park, he found a variety of foreign commodities available there such as kitchen ware of Germany, milk powder of Australia, honey of Kazakhstan, mung beans of Uzbekistan, snacks of Southeast Asia, which will meet the diverse needs of the local people.

Meanwhile, machinery, industrial raw materials, building materials, daily goods, auto parts that are to be carried by “Chang’an” are in great variety, presenting a prosperous scene of “buy globally and sell globally”, illustrating the convenience that is brought by “Chang’an”, or the “Train of Happiness”.

With the sounding of trumpets, “Chang’an” has entered an overtaking lane that calls for a bigger and more ambitious plan to be made for catching up and surpassing other peers, and for promoting the new growth of multimodal combined transport and the clustering of high-end factors.

The collection and distribution network will be broadened. The new lines opened by “Chang’an” this year from Xi’an to Iran (Afghanistan), Belarus and Gent has raised the number of scheduled lines up to 10, which basically covers the major sources of goods in Central Asia, Middle East and Europe. A total network logistic system is being built, with “five fixed scheduled trains” provided that connect Xi’an to coastal ports or source of goods such as Qingdao, Lianyungang, Ningbo, Yiwu, Shenzhen.

In terms of finished vehicle export, “Chang’an” created the two records for Shaanxi and Xi’an respectively: first is the train carrying 113 Great Wall brand SUV model auto to reach Russia, opening the first auto export for Xi’an Port; second is the import transport of 160 Volvo brand auto from Gent of Belgium to Xi’an, filling the blank of Shaanxi in importing finished vehicles. The Xi’an Port is expected to be the center of distribution of imported autos for the five provinces of northwest China.

Many foreign cities and firms also find that the China-Europe Express Service is the golden corridor for entering China market and promoting common development. Marita Toikka, Mayor of Kouvola, Finland said that Kouvola portal area is now actively working for capacity expansion to offer long-term support to optimize the efficiency of China Railway Express. So far, China and Finland jointly launched the Northern Eurasian Bridge Development Platform, which is to attract the participation of more international firms based on the “Chang’an” Kouvola-Xi’an railway service.

In the eyes of Zhai Beiqin, Deputy Director of Working Office of China (Shaanxi) Pilot Free Trade Zone, the regular operation of “Chang’an” has greatly enhanced the development of cross-border e-commerce, which not only helps sell Chinese goods to the world, but also helps bring foreign goods to Chinese consumers, and as a result, more local people of Xi’an can enjoy the convenience of “buying globally and selling globally” without leaving their homes.

So far, the sources of export goods for “Chang’an” come from the neighboring regions and coastal areas that cover more than 10 provinces in China such as Shaanxi, Gansu, Ningxia, Shandong, Shanghai and Zhejiang; and more than 70% of the imported goods are distributed to other parts of the country, achieving the fast collection and distribution of goods.

The movements of business, goods, information and capitals have greatly promoted the development of Xi’an featuring “Portal Economy, Hub Economy and Movement Economy, and “Chang’an” has substantially become the “Leading Train” of openness, the “Golden Train” of trading prosperity and the “Train of Happiness” of good life. 

[Source:Xi’an Daily]