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Shenyang expands rail cargo links with Russia

By ZHANG XIAOMIN in Dalian, Liaoning and ZHONG NAN in Beijing | China Daily | Updated: 2020-07-10 09:52
A container is loaded onto a China-Europe freight train at the Shenyang railway logistics center owned by Liaoning Port Group, a subsidiary of China Merchants Group, in Shenyang, Liaoning province, in July. [Photo by Ning Yong/For China Daily]

With China-Europe freight train service witnessing steady growth in the first half of the year, the first freight train heading for the planned largest rail cargo terminal in Russia left Shenyang, capital of Liaoning province, earlier this month to further boost trade volume between China's northeastern region and Europe.

The train is expected to arrive in Moscow within 13 to 15 days. It marks the first time the Berelast Logistics Center, which is located about 70 kilometers from Moscow's Red Square, participates with China on two-way rail cargo operations between the two continents.

"The building of the overseas service terminal for China-Europe freight train services is significant and ensures a smooth flow along the railway logistics corridor between China and Russia," said Zhang Yi, general manager of Dalian-based Liaoning Port Group, a subsidiary of China Merchants Group, a centrally administrated State-owned enterprise.

The train was loaded with 42 containers transporting auto parts, chemicals and mechanical equipment along with surgical masks donated by the Department of Commerce of Liaoning province and a number of institutions of Shenyang.

Zhang said the rail terminal of the Berelast Logistics Center, which was jointly built by Liaoning Port Group and Russian Railways beginning in 2017, is the first major logistics infrastructure cooperation project between the two countries.

The two sides plan to build it into the largest railway cargo terminal in Russia with a total investment of 2 billion yuan ($283 million) and an annual turnover capacity of 730,000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units).

The first phase of the terminal was completed in the first half of this year. It launched its first freight train heading for China on June 18.

Shilo Alexey Nikolaevich, deputy general director of Russian Railways, said it is proof of the efficient cooperation between China and Russia in line with the needs of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union.

"Together with China Merchants Group and Liaoning Port Group, we will continue to fully support the infrastructure construction of the Berelast Logistics Center, accelerate the improvement of service functions and promote the growth of cargo volume," Nikolaevich said.

As for construction of the Berelast Logistics Center, Song Yanlin, director-general of the Liaoning commercial department, said the province will speed up construction of a green Customs clearance pilot project between China and Russia as well as the building of overseas warehouses and hub ports between Liaoning and Belyy Rast to promote trade between Northeast China and Russia.

Liaoning Port Group signed strategic cooperation agreements with Liaoning branches of China Export and Credit Insurance Corp, China Development Bank and Export-Import Bank of China.

The three financial institutions will support the group to implement its "going global" strategy, participate in BRI construction and foreign economic cooperation at a higher level and in a wider range, and actively promote the construction of an international shipping center and a major logistics center in Northeast Asia.

This year, while effectively coping with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Liaoning Port Group launched new China-Europe freight train services on several routes, offering better services to its customers both at home and abroad.

The China-Europe rail transport service was initiated in 2011 and is considered a significant part of the BRI to stimulate trade between China and countries participating in the initiative. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the service has remained a reliable transportation channel.

The National Development and Reform Commission has allocated 200 million yuan from the central budget to support the construction of transportation hubs in five cities to improve China-Europe rail freight services, said China's top economic regulator earlier this week.

The funds will be used to support the construction of demonstration projects in Zhengzhou, Chongqing, Chengdu, Xi'an and Urumqi to improve the efficiency of the transportation network of rail cargo services.

The commission said it will step up coordination to guide local governments in the construction of transportation centers and offer strong support for the joint building of the BRI.

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