China relaunches rail link with Europe

Last Updated: Wed, Apr 23, 2014 19:30 hrs

Beijing, April 24 (IANS) A freight train Wednesday began its journey from central China's Wuhan city to Poland's Lodz, restarting the Wuhan-Xijiang-Europe rail route after it was suspended for technical reasons.

Its 15-day journey will pass along the Silk Road economic belt through major cities in central and northwest China, Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus before arriving at the destination, Xinhua reported.

The rail trip is about one month quicker than the maritime alternative, and costs a fifth as much as air freight, according to the Wuhan Transport Committee.

"It will greatly improve the competitiveness of exports made in Wuhan and nearby regions," said Yu Shiping, director of the committee.

He predicted that it will contribute to the realisation of the Silk Road economic belt, the regional trade infrastructure proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The train is loaded with 41 40-foot containers holding goods valued at more than $12 million.

Most of them are products made by Hon Hai/Foxconn, the world's largest electronics contract manufacturer, which assembles products for Apple, Sony and Nokia in its plant in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province.

The Wuhan-Xijiang-Europe railway opened in October 2012, but it was later suspended due to problems with customs clearance and costs.

In October 2013, Wuhan set up a railway port with customs clearance functions.

"The complicated clearance procedures were finally resolved. Export enterprises can declare their goods in the railway port. It greatly reduces their logistics costs and risks," said Xia Huanyun, deputy director of the Wuhan Transport Committee.

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