China Railway Express (Chengdu) is connecting the world
Aerial photo taken on Feb. 21, 2021 shows a China-Europe freight train departing from Chengdu International Railway Port in Chengdu, southwest China’s Sichuan Province. (Photo by Chengdu International Railway Port Administrative Committee)

Chengdu in Sichuan province used to be an important commercial center for economic and trade exchanges between China and the world by virtue of its rich products such as silk, tea and lacquerware.

Thousands of years later, the modern Silk Road, consisting of international freight trains and flights, has once again thrust Chengdu to the forefront of the opening-up policy.

Since the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed in 2013, the China-Europe freight train as a demonstration project has gradually become the main bridge and green channel connecting the Eurasian continent with its high efficiency and stability.

The Chengdu China-Europe Railway Express, which departs from Chengdu International Railway Port, has become a dazzling “star” in the China-Europe Railway Express service nationwide due to its advantages including a larger number of trips, frequency, wide radiation area and short transport time.

On Jan 1, 2021, the China-Europe Railway trains in Chengdu and Chongqing were operated under a unified brand and name, injecting new energy into China’s foreign economic and trade exchanges.

Data from Chengdu International Railway Port shows that in 2021, the number of China-Europe freight trains in Chengdu and Chongqing achieved substantial growth of more than 4,800 trains, accounting for more than 30 percent of the national total, and the transport volume recorded more than 400,000 twenty-foot equivalent units.

To date, more than 18,000 China-Europe trains have been operated in Chengdu and Chongqing, and the import and export trade volume has exceeded 700 billion yuan ($110.19 billion). In 2021, the Chengdu China-Europe Railway Express has added a total of 11 destinations including St. Petersburg in Russia, Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Felixstowe in the United Kingdom, Gdansk in Poland, Rostock in Germany, and Immingham in the United Kingdom, and has connected 69 overseas cities.

Together with 25 cities in Qinzhou in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region and Shanghai, Chengdu has built a network of international train routes and a global land and sea freight distribution system with the city as the main hub, westward to Europe, north to Mongolia and Russia, east to Japan and South Korea, and south to ASEAN members.

In the more than eight years since its operation, the Chengdu China-Europe Railway Express has promoted the continuous development and growth of iron and European-friendly industries such as electronics, automobiles, and machinery, and has driven an average annual import and export trade of more than $12 billion.

According to the development needs of the electronic information industry, Chengdu International Railway Port relies on international trains to innovate and expand the global supply chain service platform system to provide customized services for local production capacity such as Dell and TCL.

According to the needs of the automobile industry, it provides personalized supply chain solutions for Volvo, FAW-Volkswagen, Geely and other car companies.

Konka Electronics is one of the beneficiary enterprises of the Chengdu China-Europe Railway Express. More than two years ago, the Chengdu Konka Multimedia Project settled in Chengdu European Industrial City and began to enter the European market.

“Relying on the port’s complete industrial facilities and strong industrial capacity, with the location advantage of port-side manufacturing and the strategic value of Chengdu China-Europe freight trains, Chengdu International Railway Port has become the hub of Konka Group’s European business center, and it is Konka’s entry point into the European market,” said Pang Shuangcheng, manufacturing director of Chengdu Konka Electronics, revealing that Chengdu Konka plans to export more than 1,000 cabinets per year from 2022. Relying on the advantages of open ports, Chengdu also develops the port-side economy.

Chengdu International Railway Port has introduced nearly 200 major industrial projects with a total investment of more than 100 billion yuan. It focuses on the three leading industries of international supply chain, processing trade and international trade.

Not only in Europe, but the international trains also starting from Chengdu have extended south to many ASEAN countries.

On Dec 4, 2021, the second day after the opening of the China-Laos Railway, an international freight trains departed from the Chengdu International Railway Port carrying products such as light commercial trucks, motorcycle accessories and chemicals.

The products exported to Laos this time are light-duty commercial trucks produced by Sinotruck Chengdu Automobile. The products mainly serve local construction, mining and agricultural development in Laos.

In the past, the products exported by Sinotruk Chengshang Automobile to Vientiane, Laos could only be delivered by road from Chengdu via Mohan Land Port to Vientiane, Laos. The whole journey was about 2,000 kilometers and it took about 10 days. Through this international freight train, it only takes three days.

On the same day, another China-Laos international train carrying hardware, vacuum equipment, electronic accessories, anti-epidemic materials and other goods departed from the Chengdu (Shuangliu) Air-Rail International Intermodal Port located in Shuangliu district, Chengdu.

This train has a total of 35 large containers of about 350 tons of goods, all of which are products of enterprises in the Shuangliu Comprehensive Bonded Zone. While the expansion of international freight trains is accelerating, Chengdu’s aviation logistics system is also constantly improving.

On Jan 13, 22 projects, including the SF Express Western Air Cargo Hub Project, started construction in Shuangliu, with a total investment of nearly 10 billion yuan.

While ensuring the non-stop stable operation of 10 international freight routes to cities including Chicago, Frankfurt, Brussels and Osaka, Chengdu opened five international freight routes in 2021. On June 27, 2021, Chengdu Tianfu International Airport, the second international airport in Chengdu, was put into operation. The new airport has built three runways and a terminal building of 710,000 square meters in this phase, which can meet the needs of an annual passenger throughput of 60 million people and a cargo and mail throughput of 1.3 million tons.