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New rail line to Europe opens doors-as Xi sought in 2014

By Shi Baoyin and Qi Xin | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-26 07:06

There's a new rail route to ship goods from Zhengzhou to Europe, building upon an earlier route-and encouragement from President Xi Jinping during a visit in 2014 to turn Henan province into a transportation and logistics hub that can serve the Belt and Road Initiative.

The Zhengzhou-Europe Block Train, which has had service to Hamburg, Germany, since 2013, now can transport goods to and from Munich, Germany. The Hamburg line generally serves Eastern Europe and Russia while the new line to Munich which launched service last month, serves Western Europe, officials said.

On May 10, 2014, Xi traveled to Zhengzhou's rail hub and spoke during his inspection tour of Henan province.

Xi called for the transformation of Henan, located ideally in Central China, into a national transport and logistics hub linking the north and south while connecting the east and west to take advantage of the Belt and Road Initiative.

An Chunlei, 35, a train driver who drove the first Zhengzhou-Europe Block Train, said he still felt excited to recall the moment he shook hands with Xi. "His hand was warm and powerful," he said.

"Xi's inspection encouraged many people, including me," said Yang Wenjun, vice-president of Zhengzhou International Hub Development and Construction Co Ltd. "My colleagues were proud of working for the Zhengzhou-Europe International Block Train. It serves both Zhengzhou as a modern comprehensive transportation hub and the Belt and Road Initiative."

Since its launch in 2013, the Zhengzhou-Europe Block Train had completed 784 one-way trips through July and delivered cargo with total value of $4.08 billion, according to Zhengzhou's bureau of commerce.

The service began with one trip per month to Hamburg and gradually built up to daily trips in August. Its shipments come from a radius of 1,500 kilometers.

The 10,214-km Zhengzhou-Hamburg line services companies in Europe and Russia. The new Munich line service businesses in France, Italy, Spain and Austria, Yang said.

"Munich in the south of Germany also has an industrial area, home to well-known enterprises such as BMW, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz, which benefits the imports of those brand automobiles into the Chinese market aboard the train," Yang said.

Helmut Vollmers, managing director of EMONS Multi-transport Gmbh, explained, "The transit time is cut to nearly 12 days, compared with 35 days in the past by ship."

EMONS is a German company that has been working with Zhengzhou International since 2016.

He said goods such as auto parts and clothes coming to Henan province from other cities across China were sent to Hamburg, where his company dispatched them across Europe.

Besides nearly 1,300 types of goods being shipped to Europe from China, more and more global suppliers are providing shipments for the return trip.

"There are more than 50 foreign companies joined in, providing more cargo for the online and offline stores in China, and the new line's launching also formed an important supplement for the freight, " Yang said.

The Zhengzhou-Europe Block Train so far has made eight one-way trips to Europe and six return trips to Zhengzhou, packed full with merchandise.

Li Yuan, 34, a Shenzhen resident who lived in Germany for six years, said he preferred the imported cars along with more and more imported goods flooding into Henan.

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