Improved railway between China and Kazakhstan helps boost regional connectivity
Trains at the Alataw Pass/Alashankou (Photo: CNR)

Improved railway infrastructure between China and Kazakhstan has played a major role in the increased frequency of China-Europe freight train services, which has served to beef up regional connectivity and promote the Belt and Road Initiative.

There are three main routes and five border stations for China-Europe freight trains in western, central and eastern China. Two of these – on the western route – enter Kazakhstan from the Alataw Pass and Horgos Port stations in China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

To meet the growing demand for China-Europe freight train services, China carried out infrastructure upgrading to expand the capacity at these border stations.

Last year, more lines were built at Horgos for reload containers, enabling the station to handle the reloading of an additional three to four trains each day.

As a result, a total of 2,710 trains passed through Horgos last year, a year-on-year increase of 32.8 percent, according to the China-Europe Freight Train Development Report in 2021.

An expansion project has also been carried out at the Alataw Pass border station.

This year, the average daily traffic volume of China-Europe freight trains passing through these two stations increased by 20.7 percent compared with the figure in 2020, before the capacity expansion and renovation projects, according to China State Railway Group.

Capacity expansion also took place at Dostyk, the station on the Kazakh side of the border. A new reloading yard was put into operation last year with a designed capacity to reload 160,000 containers annually.

By May, the yard had been expanded to be able to handle 320,000 containers a year.

The report added that thanks to the China-Europe freight train services, Kazakhstan, which is the world’s largest landlocked country, can easily access sea ports in China to send wheat to Southeast Asian markets.

It added that these freight train services open up a new channel for inland areas of Asia and Europe, helping them to better integrate into the global economy.

As of Aug 21, 10,000 freight trains had traveled between China and Europe, carrying 972,000 twenty-foot equivalent units of goods.