China-Europe Railway Express sees rapid growth
Updated: July 8, 2024 10:33 CGTN

The China-Europe Railway Express has seen a significant uptick in operations, with 7,746 train trips passing through the Horgos Port and the Alataw Pass in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in the first half of 2024, marking rises of 8.2 percent year-on-year.

Xinjiang's Horgos Port and the Alataw Pass handle 40 percent of the China-Europe freight train trips. As the volume of China-Europe freight trains and trade exchanges continues to rise, the range of goods transported by these freight trains has diversified. Previously limited to items like daily necessities and ores, now it includes large-scale equipment, automobiles, lithium batteries, and other products.

The two ports in Xinjiang connect Kazakhstan in the Western corridor of the China-Europe Railway Express route. As China's standard gauge railway tracks are 85 millimeters wider than Kazakhstan's, containers carried by the trains need to be reloaded at border stations. To enhance the efficiency of container reloading and improve the transit efficiency, railway workers from both China and Kazakhstan have implemented various measures.

"Originally, it took us around 60 seconds to change one container. Now, it only uses about 40 seconds. If each vehicle carries two containers, we can save about 40 minutes to load a train. Including other operations, it used to take about 2 hours and 10 minutes to complete the whole train change operation. Now it only takes an hour and a half." said Xie Shuyong, a gantry crane operator in Alataw Pass.

Xinjiang has started construction of the "Digital Urumqi Railway," enhancing container exchange capabilities. They also adopted paperless operations for information exchange between customs and railway departments, effectively streamlining procedures for freight trains.

Yang Rui, the deputy director of the safety production command center in Alataw Pass said, "the station pre-reserves tracks in advance to ensure uninterrupted train arrivals and departures. The outbound train turnover speed continues to accelerate, reducing clearance times to within 5 hours. Inbound cargo information transfer processes have also been sped up by 4 hours."

Since its launch in 2011, the China-Europe Railway Express has reached 223 cities in 25 European countries and connected more than 100 cities in 11 Asian countries.

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