China-Europe freight trains open new horizons for Jilin
Shipping containers are stored at a freight yard of the Changchun International Land Port in Changchun, Jilin province. (Photo by CHINA DAILY)

In the first nine months of this year, inbound and outbound China-Europe freight trains on the Changchun-Manzhouli-Europe International Rail Freight Line carried 7,398 standard-sized shipping containers, up 8.6 percent year-on-year, according to the Changchun International Land Port Development.

Import and export goods were valued at around 2.4 billion yuan ($375.6 million), a 3.4 percentage point increase compared with last year.

The line-the first of its kind in Jilin province, which starts in the capital city, Changchun, and exits China via the rail port in Manzhouli, Inner Mongolia autonomous region-passes through Russia, Belarus and Poland before finally arriving in Germany and has been in operation since Aug 2015.

As a transport corridor, it serves both domestic and international circulation and closely connects countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, said Wang Yue, president of the company operating the service.

Outbound trains mainly transport auto parts, electronic machinery and equipment, valves and clothing made in Jilin province or other parts of northern China, while return trains usually import auto parts, building materials and food.

The line is 9,800 kilometers long, and trains take a total of 14 days to make the journey from Changchun to Germany, more than 20 days less than sea routes.

The trade link plays a significant role in helping companies save time, reduce costs and sell stock.

Workers at the Fuyao Group Changchun factory busily loaded a batch of front windscreens for Audi automobiles onto the Changchun-Manzhouli-Europe train that departed for Germany on Oct 12.

The company previously transported cargo to Germany by sea from Dalian in Liaoning province, but now, weekly trains take goods to Europe more quickly.

Transport by sea was not only time-consuming, but also cargo could lose value due to the humidity and intense variations between daytime and nighttime temperatures during the voyage, according to a staff member. “At the start, the Jilin line showed little advantage compared to the two central stations administered by the China Railway Shenyang Group and the China Railway Harbin Group, as well as the two ports of Dalian and Yingkou when it came to shipping,” Wang said.

“However, after several years, it now directly connects with 30 central railway stations in 10 European countries and 80 stations in Russia, and has become the line that connects the most countries and regions of all the China-Europe lines.”

He added that freight trains had carried about 64,000 shipping containers of goods worth some 22 billion yuan since its opening.

Designed as a complementary corridor of the line, the Changchun-Hunchun-Europe International Rail Freight Line has now finished trial operations and is beginning to run steadily.

Carrying 108 shipping containers of auto parts and other goods, the new line’s first train departed from Changchun Xinglong Railway Port to Hunchun on April 25.

On April 30, the train left Hunchun for Russia before reaching Poland and Germany, marking the opening of the second major international railway transport channel in Jilin.

Hunchun Port is the only railway trade port connecting Jilin province to Russia.

As of the end of September, the Changchun-Manzhouli-Europe Line had shipped 1,108 shipping containers of goods valued at 186 million yuan.

The China-Europe train lines support the smooth operation of municipal and provincial industrial and supply chains, local media reported.

The two lines have greatly reduced export costs for enterprises in the province and introduced the world to the “Made in Changchun” and “Made in Jilin” brands, which may help local enterprises find more overseas markets and enhanced the province’s economic development.