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Railway links bolster Xiamen's key position in regional logistics

By Zhuan Ti | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-02 08:14

Railway links bolster Xiamen's key position in regional logistics

Jiangyin Port in Fuqing, Fujian province, handles more than 18.5 million metric tons of shipments in foreign trade in the first seven months of this year. [Photo by YOU QINGHUI/CHINA DAILY]

Xiamen, a coastal city in Fujian province, has taken advantage of its geographical position to benefit from the Belt and Road Initiative.

The city now has three regular railway services linking it to Europe and Central Asian countries.

The longest railway service is to Hamburg in Germany, with the others heading to Moscow and Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan.

The Hamburg line passes through Central Asia on its 16-day journey, which stretches a total length of 11,866 kilometers.

Rows of containers can be seen at the terminals of these railway services in Xiamen.

Since the services launched on Aug 16, 2015, the lines have become some of the busiest cross-border railways in China.

By Aug 15 this year, the total number of journeys reached 156, shipping a total of 4,400 containers with goods valued at 2.4 billion yuan ($363 million).

So far this year, the number has reached 52, carrying 1,568 containers with goods valued at 850 million yuan. Most of the goods are clothes and light industry products.

Jiang Jingdong is in charge of the operating platform of the Xiamen China-Europe Express. He said the service has linked the city with the central and western parts of China, as well as Central Asia and Europe.

Goods from Southeast Asian countries can also be shipped to Xiamen's seaport and then be loaded onto the rail express to Europe, saving a lot of time compared with transporting the goods by sea the whole way, he said. "This makes Xiamen an important link in the route, a transportation pivot."

In April 2016, a batch of goods from Taiwan was shipped to Xiamen and then transported to Europe through the rail service. In July this year, a second batch of goods from Taiwan also arrived in Europe via the railway. At the end of July, a batch of goods from South Korea and Vietnam also took advantage of the rail service for destinations in Europe.

On their return trips, the train brought back products from Europe such as beverages, biscuits, beers and infant formula.

At present, there is only one train service from Xiamen to Hamburg every week. "Given the robust demand, we are applying to add another weekly trip," Jiang said.

Xiamen aims to provide the service to other Southeast Asian countries in order to expand its client base, he said.

Compared with other transportation methods, the express railway can save at least half the time taken to ship products by sea and can reduce the costs incurred using air cargo by three-fourths.

As a crucial point on the ancient marine Silk Road, Xiamen has gained a reputation for its widespread waterways and flourishing overseas trade.

Xiamen Port, with an annual handling capacity of 9.61 million standard containers, is the 15th-largest terminal in the world and one of the four major shipping centers in China.

With 143 shipping routes linking with regions in North Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Australia, Africa and Southeast Asia, the port is key to enhancing business bonds with countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.

Nowadays, the sea-rail combined transportation has enabled Xiamen to play an increasingly important role in foreign exchanges, local officials said.

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