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Expanding rail and air links to bolster Belt and Road

By Zhuan Ti | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-14 15:32

Chengdu, a megacity in western China, has committed to expanding its railway and flight transport services to better support the Belt and Road Initiative.

The Chengdu-Europe Express Railway Service will make more than 1,000 journeys in 2017, up from 460 journeys last year, according to local authorities.

The city started to promote the freight express service, aiming to better connect the domestic and European markets by rail.

In 2013, the Chengdu-Europe Express Railway opened a route from Chengdu to Lodz in Poland. In the past two years, the express rail has been expanded to many domestic cities including Xiamen in Fujian province, Shenzhen in Guangdong province and Kunming in Yunnan province.

The Chengdu-Europe Express Railway's European route has also been extended, successfully connecting it with several major European cities, including Nuremberg in Germany and Tilburg in the Netherlands.

Expanding rail and air links to bolster Belt and Road

The express railway will have southern, central and northern routes that terminate in Istanbul in Turkey, Lodz in Poland and Moscow in Russia, respectively.

The figures from Chengdu customs show that about 1,200 companies have enjoyed the benefits of the express freight train, including Intel and DHL.

"The greatest advantage of the China-Europe Express Railway Service is that it has shortened goods transportation time between China and Europe," said Feng Xuhong, vice-president of Chengdu Geely.

Geely sent 41 containers of auto parts to one of its plants in Minsk, capital of Belarus, in early March.

The train, running on the northern route of the Chengdu-Europe Express Rail, traveled more than 8,800 kilometers over 12 days to reach the plant.

Feng said that the train transported auto parts and accessories produced in Geely's factories in Chengdu and Ningbo, Zhejiang province, worth nearly $600,000. Those parts will be used to assemble one of Geely's luxury car models. The completed cars will be sold in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Before the debut of the express freight train service, Geely adopted sea and road transportation models to send auto products to its plant in Minsk. The overall transportation time was more than 40 days, Feng said.

The express railway service also helps to attract businesses to the city and support Chengdu's industrial upgrade.

TCL, a home appliance maker in China, has adjusted its operation map in the country and moved some of its production capacity to Chengdu. It plans to develop its largest production base in the city to enjoy the benefits emerging from its geographical location and the railway links.

Improving flight services

The city plans to have more than 100 international regular flights during the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-20).

Within that figure, more than 70 will be non-stop flights. The city has 96 international flight routes, with direct flights to 78 cities around the world.

Currently, the city is sparing no efforts to open routes to Europe, Australia, Africa, the Middle East and North America.

Hainan Airlines, one of the largest flight service providers in China, launched a direct flight route between Chengdu and Los Angeles. It is the second non-stop flight route to the United States from Chengdu. The company plans to launch a route to New York in the first half of this year.

In 2016, Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport handled 46 million passengers, ranking fourth among 218 inland airports in terms of volume. Its cargo throughput reached 611,000 metric tons, ranking fifth among 218 inland airports in China.

The Tianfu International Airport has already started construction and will be completed in 2020. Chengdu will become the third city in China to be equipped with two airports.

Chengdu has aimed to develop itself into an outstanding city in terms of electronics and communications industrial development in Southwest China. It also plans to take the lead among China's megacities in providing a fiber optic internet network.

According to related plans, the city will speed up construction of its digital infrastructure in information and communications to serve as a digital center and international information harbor, in hopes of becoming an international and regional communications hub.

 Expanding rail and air links to bolster Belt and Road

Natalia Kosana Goldysiak, operation manager at the Polish showroom in Chengdu, introduces products from Poland arrived by the Chengdu-Europe Express Rail. Photos Provided To China Daily

 Expanding rail and air links to bolster Belt and Road

A new Airbus A350 model arrives in Chengdu for display.

(China Daily 05/14/2017 page18)

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