XI'AN, April 1 (Xinhua) -- A direct cargo train on Thursday left for Milan from Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, marking the departure of the 100th direct express since the service was launched last year.
As of Thursday, about 60,725 tonnes of cargo was transported via the Xi'an-Milan freight train route, with a total value of 537.47 million U.S. dollars, according to the Xi'an Free Trade Port Construction and Operation Co. Ltd.
Goods made in China, including industrial robots, microscopes and anti-epidemic supplies, have stocked Europe-bound trains last year, while inbound cargo trains carried Italian products such as high-end furniture and red wines.
The service was put into operation in April last year to meet surging demand at home and abroad, said Li Na, vice general manager of Beijing Trans Eurasia International Logistics Ltd., the rail service operator.
"Cargo freight from and to Milan has been increasing, so that it was necessary to start a direct express train between Xi'an and Milan," Li said, adding that the traditional transhipment service linking the two cities is time-consuming and more expensive.
The direct express train helped shorten the travel time between the two cities to 17 days from 24 days.
"It is suitable for high-value goods, especially for Italian-made commodities including high-end furniture and luxury objects," said Yuan Xiaojun, general manager of Xi'an Free Trade Port Construction and Operation Co. Ltd.
"The service facilitates a shorter sales cycle, thus it is more attractive to market players," Yuan added.
As new consumption patterns including cross-border e-commerce are flourishing in both China and Europe, rail freight demand will further increase, according to Yuan.
In February, the trade volume between China and Italy totalled 31.4 billion yuan (about 4.79 billion U.S. dollars), up 47 percent year on year, with exports and imports rising 43.3 percent and 52.6 percent, respectively, data by China's General Administration of Customs showed.
"This is a rosy scenario," Yuan said, referring to a strong complementarity of industry and commodity structures between the two countries.
Amid pressure from a supply chain shattered by COVID-19 and shipping delays by sea, China-Europe freight trains stand out as a competitive alternative with stability in terms of punctuality and security.
"Many enterprises and shippers have recognized the important role that the China-Europe freight trains play in facilitating international trade and land transport," Yuan said.
This year, China-Europe freight train (Xi'an) service handled a total of 30,049 transport containers as of March 22, up 24.36 percent year on year. Enditem