Chengdu in Southwest China’s Sichuan province has been an active player in boosting global trade and economic development for centuries.
In the past, the provincial capital served as a significant source of goods for the ancient Silk Road, via which local specialties like silk, tea and lacquerware were traded and transferred to other parts of the world.
Today, it is playing a key role in promoting the modern Silk Road Economic Belt, with services provided by China-Europe freight trains departing from the city’s Qingbaijiang district.
To cope with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the district has resorted to a new development pattern featuring domestic and international dual circulations that complement each other. This allows the local industrial and supply chains to remain stable and results in increased freight train trips and overseas orders.
Statistics from Chengdu customs show the number of China-Europe freight trains on the Chengdu route dispatched in the first nine months surged to 1,600, up 57 percent year-on-year.
Of them, a cargo train carrying auto parts departed on Oct 14 from Chengdu International Railway Port and arrived in Belarus 14 days later. The goods included 1,351 kinds of auto parts used for Geely Vision SUVs, with a total value of 8 million yuan ($1.2 million).
These auto parts came from Geely’s manufacturing plant in Longquanyi district of Chengdu. Every month, the plant exports about four batches of goods to Belarus.
Huang Fei, head of the production and logistics department at Geely Auto Chengdu Manufacturing, said the company used to deliver goods by sea, which had a low cost, but the transport period was so long that some parts even began to rust. While the China-Europe (Chengdu) freight train service takes much less time, and with some preferential policies in freightage, the company can greatly reduce production costs, Huang added.
From January to September, Geely exported 1,740 sets of auto parts worth over 110 million yuan by using the freight train services, which helped save up to 4 million yuan in transport costs.
Since the Chengdu route of China-Europe freight trains was launched in 2013, the city has been able to expand its international logistics network in an all-around way. Chengdu now boasts seven international rail lines and six searail freight routes that connect it with 55 cities overseas and 18 Chinese cities.
Chengdu currently has eight trains going back and fore from Europe on a daily basis, producing win-win results for all sides.
“Most of our clients use the China-Europe freight train services to transport medium and high-end products and have high requirements on transport time and safety. Thus our goal is to become quicker and safer,” said Chen Zejun, spokesman of the Chengdu International Railway Service, operator and manager of the China-Europe (Chengdu) freight trains.
To date, the China-Europe freight trains on the Chengdu route have transported goods worth nearly 200 billion yuan, involving industries such as automobiles, smart household appliances and biomedicine.
The company has set up overseas offices in Nuremberg and Hamburg in Germany, Tilburg in the Netherlands, Prague in the Czech Republic, and Warsaw in Poland. Employees at these offices work at the same time as those in China despite the time difference to ensure efficient operation of the freight trains.
The route operator has this year created a more flexible delivery service by establishing more collection and distribution centers that cover major transportation and trade hubs in Europe.
The initiative allows customers to pay freightage based on the number of containers.
Some large logistics companies including DHL, COSCO Shipping Lines and Shunfeng Express have taken advantage of the new service.
In addition, Chengdu customs has carried out cooperation with overseas customs to promote the mutual exchange of data and information, as well as mutual recognition of inspection results and mutual assistance in enforcement.