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China Europe Express Railway shipments rise in April

Updated: May 09,2020 09:30 AM    CGTN

The number of shipments from the Urumqi land port on the China Europe Express Railway dropped by 35 percent in the first three months of 2020, but the one in April rose fast, even slightly topping April of 2019, according to Zhou Kai, executive deputy general manager of the Xinjiang International Land Port Group.

That rise partly reflects how the pandemic continues to derail the shipping industry, by changing its landscape.

Zhou said the China Europe Railway had been taking on transportation previously done on highways and roads. "Even if those land ports slowly reopen now, their recovery is slow," he said.

The railway has also turned to take on international postal services that used to be carried by air. "The pandemic has disrupted air cargo transportation significantly, and railway has emerged as the alternative," Zhou said.

He is also confident that demand for the China Europe Express Railway shipment will continue throughout the year, despite international uncertainties.

"From here, the routes to Central Asia, to Russia and Europe proved to be quite stable. Meanwhile, the commodities on these routes are must-haves and that demand won't be swayed by the pandemic," he told CGTN.

Trains departing from the Urumqi land port mostly carry local products of Xinjiang, such as agricultural products like ketchup and fruit juice, and chemicals including PVC and caustic soda.

Export-oriented companies in the region now enjoy cut-down freight rates and favorable routes when shipping their products overseas. But transportation aside, they still have to adjust to international uncertainties.

"Our main export business slumped almost 20 percent in the first three months of this year," said Xu Junfeng, vice-managing director of the Xinjiang Zhongtai Imp & Exp Co. The company exports chemicals and other products to over 90 countries and had seen a particularly "difficult" first quarter.

Xu said the company is exploring a host of measures to cope with disruptions coming from the pandemic. It's shifting focus to more stable markets including those in Southeast Asia and planning to set up overseas warehouses to offset future risks.

"Exports will come back in the next few months," Xu observed.

As for the Urumqi land port, it has planned to see off 1,200 cargo trains on the China Europe Express Railway by year end, more than those launched in 2019.