Freight trains running between east China's Shandong Province and countries in Central Asia and Europe are growing busier as production in many regions resumes due to the improved COVID-19 epidemic situation.
"With the resumption of work and production and growing export demand, the volume of China-Europe freight trains has increased recently," said Liang Jihe of China Railway Jinan Group Co., Ltd.
Liang said that the number of "Qilu" trains departing for Europe and Central Asia has rebounded strongly following a year-on-year decrease in April. The "Qilu" trains now reach 54 cities in 23 countries along the Belt and Road.
In the first five months of this year, "Qilu" trains made 751 trips between Jinan, the provincial capital of Shandong, and their overseas destinations, up 3.6 percent year on year, according to Ma Chunbo, deputy general manager of Shandong Hi-Speed Qilu Eurasia Railway Logistics Co., Ltd.
"We have provided customized train services for renowned corporations as well as micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, helping stabilize international logistics and industrial chains," said Ma.
Since its first "ride" in mid-April, Jinan Maisen New Material, a start-up company exporting construction chemicals, has generated 3 million yuan (about 449,000 U.S. dollars) in revenue from five shipments of goods to European countries via China-Europe freight trains, according to manager Li Yiwei.
"Compared to sea and air transport, the China-Europe freight train service is pretty fast and reasonably priced," said Li, adding that the high efficiency is beneficial to the capital turnover of both Chinese exporters and European importers.
The China-Europe freight trains help Shandong's trade enterprises to expand business in Europe, according to Ma. By the end of April, "Qilu" trains had made 5,000 trips in total since they were launched in 2018.
"Three to four years ago, the exports were mostly daily necessities and clothes, which are low value-added," said Xie Yuan, a customs clearance manager with Sinotrans Jinan International Logistics Co., Ltd.
However, in the past two years, more high value-added products, including home appliances, large mechanical equipment and laser engraving machines, as well as featured agricultural products, have been shipped overseas, said Xie.
"Despite impeded global logistics and shrinking international trade due to the pandemic, 'Qilu' trains have ensured stable operation and deepened the trade collaboration between Shandong and the Belt and Road countries," said Liu Ze, a professor of economics with the Party School of the Communist Party of China Shandong Provincial Committee.