BEIJING, May 20 (Xinhua) -- The outbreak of COVID-19 has dealt a blow to logistics channels including international shipping and air transport.
Under the circumstance, China-Europe freight trains, serving as an important bond connecting China, Europe and countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, have provided a firm support for stabilizing the international supply chain.
-- Growing against trend
On May 4, a China-Europe freight train left eastern Chinese city of Yiwu, Zhejiang Province, heading for Vilnius, capital of Lithuania.
The postal service train will travel a total of 10,146 km and pass by Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus before arriving at the terminal. The China-Europe freight train service now has 12 routes linking Yiwu with 37 countries and regions across Eurasia.
The train carrying 100 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) loaded with 353.77 tonnes of international mails from Shanghai and four provinces left China via the Horgos Port in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
The operation of the train marks that a new cargo transport line has linked China and the Baltic Sea of Europe, which has provided a new way to transport international mails.
China-Europe freight trains are operated by sections and do not involve personnel quarantine, which endows the service with a unique advantage during the epidemic outbreak as compared with air transport and international shipping.
Besides Yiwu, China-Europe freight trains in various regions of the country have witnessed growth in both the number of trips and cargo volume during the epidemic.
According to the statistics released by the China State Railway Group Co., Ltd., the number of China-Europe freight trains hit a record monthly high of 979 in April, up 46 percent year on year.
A total of 88,000 TEUs of cargo were transported by the trains, up 50 percent from a year earlier.
From January to April, a total of 2,920 China-Europe freight trains transported cargo of 262,000 TEUs, up 24 percent and 27 percent from a year earlier, respectively.
-- Stabilizing international chain
China has the largest, most comprehensive and most complete manufacturing system in the world, and plays an important role in the international supply chain. The international supply chain has been greatly affected by the epidemic. China-Europe freight train service has played a vital role in stabilizing the international supply chain.
An official with the freight department of China State Railway Group said that they have strengthened international cooperation and jointly launched measures to facilitate customs clearance with related departments with an aim to ensure the safe and smooth running of logistic channels.
The railway department in Erenhot has opened a service hotline for import and export cargo handling, strengthened contact with the government, customs, border inspection and railway departments in Mongolia, and implemented the "one declaration, one inspection, one release" customs clearance mode.
-- Contributing to anti-epidemic efforts
With the spreading of the epidemic, European countries and those countries and regions participating in the Belt and Road Initiative have strong demand for epidemic prevention materials.
Enjoying the advantages of short transportation time, low costs, large transport capacity and zero personnel contact, China-Europe freight trains have become the main channels for European countries to import medical materials and life necessities, making great contribution to global anti-epidemic effort.
Since the first train carrying medical supplies departed from eastern Chinese city of Yiwu on March 21, the China-Europe freight trains have transported 3,142 tonnes of epidemic prevention materials to countries such as Italy, Germany, Spain, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and the Netherlands by the end of April.
"We will continue to take measures to support the operation of China-Europe freight trains, make active contribution to the international transportation of epidemic prevention materials, and ensure a smooth trade exchange between China and Europe," said the official with China State Railway Group. (Edited by Zhang Yuan with Xinhua Silk Road, firstname.lastname@example.org)