The development of the China-Europe Railway Express is marked by an expansion in the types of goods and their increased volume, according to the chief executive officer of the United Transport and Logistics Company -- Eurasian Rail Alliance (UTLC ERA).
"In order to cope with the increasing number of China-Europe Railway Express trains, railway logistics companies in the Eurasian region are further increasing transport capacity, developing technologies to provide digital services, and ensuring competitiveness through affordable transport prices," Alexei Grom said in a recent interview.
Controlled by Russian Railways, Kazakhstan National Railways and Belarusian Railways, the UTLC ERA provides services for transportation on the route between China and Europe via the three countries.
Grom said that according to the company's operating data, a total of 336,500 TEUs were transported in the first half of 2021, which shows an increase of about 50 percent over the same period last year. In May this year, the monthly transportation volume reached 61,500 TEUs, a record high in a single month since the establishment of the company.
"We expect this year's annual transportation volume to be close to 700,000 TEUs, which may create a new annual record. At the same time, maintaining transportation speed, competitiveness, reliability and safety are also very important," Grom explained.
The company's data shows that electronic and machinery products, as well as auto parts, accounted for 80 percent of the goods China transported to Europe three years ago. In the first half of this year, these three types of commodities accounted for about 40 percent of the total cargo transportation volume.
The transportation volume of chemical products such as plastics, rubber and glass has increased, and the volume of medical and health products also showed strong growth momentum with more diversified commodities.
Grom said that the volume of freight from Europe to China was also increasing as the company "provides customers with commercial solutions, using return containers to load agricultural products from Belarus and Russia, and transit through Kazakhstan to export to China."
The development of e-commerce will play a positive role in the growth of China-Europe freight trains, according to Grom.
"The e-commerce operation model tends to deliver goods in a faster way," Grom said, adding that this will be a very prospective field for railway cross-border transportation, which the company is currently focusing on and will continue to develop.
In order to cope with the ever-increasing volume of China-Europe express trains, the company has taken a variety of measures, such as extending the length of freight trains and developing new container terminals along the China-Europe train, to further increase capacity and ensure service and price levels.
Grom said the reliability and safety of railway transportation was a priority in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. Even during some of the most challenging periods amid the pandemic, materials such as medical and protective equipment could be delivered to their destinations on time.
The railway has become a link connecting various places and conveying goodwill. For many companies that trade in Europe and China, rail transportation has become a viable alternative to sea and road transportation, said Grom.
Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan are actively developing railway transit transportation and speeding up the construction of logistics infrastructure under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, the Eurasian Economic Union and Kazakhstan's new "Bright Road" economic policy.
"This is an investment in the future, which will have a multiplier effect on the countries' development and can drive the development of a series of fields such as construction, engineering, and IT technology," Grom said.