China / Society

Xi'an: Int'l cargo hub on track

By Lu Hongyan and Ma Lie (China Daily) Updated: 2014-05-22 07:01

Road, rail, air and sea link inland China to Central Asia and Europe

Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi province, is expected to be an international cargo hub between China, Central Asia and Europe after a cooperation agreement was signed by Xi'an International Trade and Logistics Park and Kazakhstan's National Railway Company.

The agreement, which was signed on April 14 in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, aims to develop international logistics between China and Kazakhstan, said Yang Mingrui, director of ITL's administration committee. A trade delegation, led by Han Song, deputy mayor of Xi'an and Party secretary of ITL, visited Central Asian countries in April to investigate and signed the agreement with Kazakhstan's national railway company.

 Xi'an: Int'l cargo hub on track

The proposed route for the international Chang'an cargo train. Photos provide to China Daily

Under the agreement, Kazakhstan is expected to establish a new railway express company to organize and coordinate the transport of goods from China to Kazakhstan and the transit of cargo across Kazakhstan, including goods sent from ITL.

"Every month, two container trains will be sent from ITL to Kazakhstan and the goods will be distributed in Kazakhstan to other Central Asian countries.

"Meanwhile, Kazakhstan's railway express company will make ITL its cargo distribution hub for its international logistics business," Yang said.

Xi'an: Int'l cargo hub on track

With cooperation from Kazakhstan, ITL intends to build a special economic zone industrial park in Horgos, a border city in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region next to Kazakhstan. A logistics pier in the park will distribute goods from China's inland regions to Central Asia, Russia and Europe, Yang said.

In 2013, trade volume between Xi'an and Kazakhstan reached $ 25 million and there is still scope for both countries to further cooperate, especially in the field of investment.

The Chang'an train was the first international cargo train to run from Xi'an to Kazakhstan and started operating on Nov 28, 2013. It was also the first freight train to run directly from inland Shaanxi province to Central Asian countries.

"The freight train provided a logistics corridor for inland city Xi'an to Central Asia and Europe and laid the foundations for Xi'an International Trade and Logistics Park to build itself into a key international land transit hub along the Silk Road economic belt," Yang said.

China Railway Corporation plans to form an express railway route from China to Europe and the Chang'an train was listed as the first train with the No 80001 to Central Asia.

Xi'an: Int'l cargo hub on track

The Chang'an freight train will follow one main route and two branch routes. The main 9,850 km route was designed to link Xi'an with Rotterdam. One of the branch routes will run from Xi'an to Kazakhstan and the other from Xi'an to Moscow.

"We are making an active effort to promote the Xi'an-to-Moscow route and hope it will work before the end of this year," the director said. To date the Chang'an international freight trains have run seven times. Five of these journeys were between November 2013 and March 2014 and transported 3,415 tons of goods worth $10.54 million.

In April this year, the trains ran twice with 104 carriages, Yang said.

Experts suggest that Xi'an is the most competitive city along the Silk Road economic belt.

Zhang Baotong, economist and director of the regional development advisory center under Shaanxi Academy of Social Sciences, said that Xi'an's geographical and industrial advantages made it the most convenient logistics transit hub trade between China and Central Asian and European countries."The Chang'an train and the port functions provided by Xi'an International Trade and Logistics Park create extremely favorable conditions for inland cities to develop their international trade and cooperation," Zhang said.

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(China Daily 05/22/2014 page7)

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