A new report on Thursday claimed that China is willing to cooperate with countries along the China-Europe Railway Express lines, jointly promoting the construction of major infrastructure projects. This will be completed to ensure smooth operations of freight train services.

Looking ahead, the report said China is ready to intensify efforts to boost the digital and smart development of China-Europe freight trains. 

This initiative will enhance the implementation and standardisation of regulations, policies, and technical standards, as well as promote digital applications of the trains.

Notably, China will continue to give priority to the role of the Belt and Road Special Lending Scheme, the Silk Road Fund, and special investment funds in boosting connectivity between the two continents. 

More efforts will also be made to develop Silk Road-themed bonds. Moreover, measures will be introduced to support the Multilateral Cooperation Center for Development Finance, a joint financial mechanism promoting high-quality infrastructure and connectivity investment in developing countries.

In the next step, Xu Jianping, director of the department of regional opening-up at the National Development and Reform Commission, said the Belt and Road Initiative will work with relevant parties to promote the upgrading of some domestic sections of railways. 

Parallel to this will come the expansion of key ports’ capacity along the China-Europe railway express and new transportation corridors throughout Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Western Asia.

As of end-July, a total of over 57,000 China-Europe freight train journeys were made, carrying 5.3 million twenty-foot equivalent unit containers of goods worth nearly $300 billion. 

With a 98.3 per cent comprehensive heavy container rate, the trains reached 24 countries and 196 cities in Europe. 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the railway has served as a lifeline for freight transportation between Asia and Europe. 

An overview of the current China-Europe freight landscape 

As of end-July, China-Europe freight trains have transported a total of 14.2 million pieces and 109,000 metric tons of anti-pandemic supplies to Europe.

Xia Jun, deputy director of the department of port control at the General Administration of Customs, said the China-Europe freight trains are promoting economic and trade ties between the two continents and stabilising industrial supply chains.

In 2021, China’s imported and exported with 24 countries along China-Europe freight train routes. These deals reached 6.88 trillion yuan ($1.01 trillion), showing an increase of 19.7 per cent year-on-year.

Zhuang He, director of the freight transport department at China State Railway Group, said the group is holding talks with railway companies in Russia and Kazakhstan to promote paperless transportation based on mutual recognition of electronic signatures.

Meanwhile, under the cooperation mechanism of the joint working group on China-Europe freight train transportation, relevant parties are working on an implementation plan for blockchain information tracking. 

Efforts will hopefully further expand the scope of information sharing and provide convenient services for customers.