Record number of Xi’an to Europe rail freight services help meet COVID-19 demand
Almost two million tonnes of freight was transported between Xi’an and Europe as demand on rail increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic limiting air and sea freight capacity.
As of 6 May 2020, the number of China-Europe freight trains, originating in Xi’an, reached 1,000 in 2020, 78 days earlier than the same period in 2019. To help with reduced shipping capacities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, during April and May 2020, the China-Europe freight train service has experienced a record peak in services.
Cargo totalled 1.923 million tonnes, an increase of 41.7 per cent when compared to the same period in 2019. The 1,000th train of 2020 embarked from Xi’an Xinzhu Station and headed west to Uzbekistan in May 2020, a landmark journey in connecting China with its European trade partners.
In response to COVID-19, Xi’an opened up a dedicated channel for the trains to help maintain normal operations and support enterprises getting back to business. Xi’an recognised the need to optimise the transportation declaration and approval procedures, as well as the need to intensify the schedule by reducing the intervals between trains.
The starting point of the Silk Road is Xi’an, an ancient capital of China, which has become known as the ‘Window of the Silk Road’, enabling China to connect with the rest of the world and becoming the home in China for freight trains. In this critical period of global co-operation in the fight against COVID-19, the position of Xi’an as the centre of the China-Europe freight train service is pivotal.
Since the launch of the China-Europe freight trains in 2013, an increasing number of countries and enterprises are using the service. The China-Europe freight trains, which start off in Xi’an, can travel through more than 40 countries and regions, enabling close economic and trade ties between China and Europe.
In fact, as of April 2020, there is a new route introduced from Xi’an to Barcelona. This train first set off on 8 April 2020 and took 18 days to arrive in Barcelona. The new route from Xi’an to Barcelona and the regular daily services to Horgos have extended the coverage of trains from Xi’an to Western Europe.
Mr. Xinhuang, Director of Xi’an Xinzhu Station of China Railway Xi’an Group, said: “We are delighted to be able to be a solution to many enterprises during this stressful time. The China-Europe freight train service has clear benefits and has become the main means of transporting goods between China and Europe. We have been able to maintain operations as usual during the pandemic and have, in fact, extended our train services by reducing interval times and reaching new destinations, such as Barcelona. It’s great that the China-Europe freight train service can encourage businesses around the world to connect, trade and join hands in the fight against COVID-19.”