China-Europe freight train service 'a passage of life' amid pandemic: official

BEIJING, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- Some 109,000 tonnes of anti-pandemic products had been sent to Europe through the China-Europe freight train service by the end of July, an official said Thursday.

A China-Europe freight train carrying anti-epidemic supplies prepares to head for Belgrade, Serbia, in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, May 9, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)

While sea and air transportation were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, the train service effectively guaranteed the stability of international industrial and supply chains, Xu Jianping, an official of the National Development and Reform Commission, said at a press conference.

Xu called the train service "a passage of life" for the global anti-pandemic fight.

The China-Europe freight train service began operations in 2011 and has witnessed booming development in particular since the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative. Total annual train trips surged from 1,702 in 2016 to 15,183 last year.

With 82 routes reaching Europe, the trains now reach 196 cities in 24 European countries, transporting more than 50,000 types of goods including IT products, automobiles and parts, clothes, grain, wines, coffee beans, and timber.

The train service built a new logistics channel between Asia and Europe that operates around the clock, has a large carrying capacity, and is green, low-carbon and safe, Xu said.

A report, released Thursday by the office of the leading group on advancing Belt and Road development and China State Railway Group Co., Ltd., said the train service improved regional opening-up, expanded economic and trade exchanges, deepened international industrial capacity cooperation, and facilitated the improvement of people's well-being in countries along the routes.

The latest data showed the number of train trips in July surged by 11 percent year on year to hit a record 1,517, with shipments of 149,000 20-foot equivalent units of goods.