China will run nearly 1,000 cargo trains to Europe in 2017, more than double the number from last year, as the Communist trading giant ramps up efforts to boost its dwindling exports. The cargo trains from southwest China’s Chengdu city would be doubled, the Chengdu International Railway Services Company said today. Chengdu, capital of southwest China’s Sichuan Province, ran 460 cargo trains to cities in Poland, the Netherlands and Germany last year — more than any other Chinese city. Chengdu delivered a total of 73,000 tonnes of goods worth $1.56 billion in 2016 globally, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The southwestern hub has planned three major rail line services to Europe, with a middle route to Germany, Poland and the Netherlands, a southern route to Turkey and beyond, and another northern route to Russia. This year, new routes linking Chengdu to Istanbul and Moscow will be officially launched, company chairman Fan Jun was quoted as saying by the report. Fan said trains to Istanbul and Moscow would take about 16 days and 10 days, with each route planning to operate 200 and 150 trains in 2017, respectively.
China last month has launched its first freight train to London. London is the 15th city in Europe added to China-Europe freight train services. Demand for rail cargo service between China and Europe, an alternative to slower and riskier sea freight and much costlier air cargo, has exploded in recent years. By June 2016, trains had made nearly 2,000 trips between 25 Chinese cities and Europe, with a total import and export value of USD 17 billion, it said.
China’s exports totalled to USD 2.27 trillion in 2015 slowing down from USD 2.34 trillion in 2014. China’s economy grew at 6.9 per cent in 2015 slipping below seven per cent in a quarter of century. As part of its efforts to stabilise its exports and economy, China has embarked on multi billion dollar global connectivity project called the One Belt One Road, (Silk Road).