The first freight train has departed between the Chinese capital Beijing and Moscow. It marked the start of a new service China-Europe Railway Express, connecting the capitals of the two countries. The train left on March 16, and is expected to arrive expected on April 3, taking 18 days. A total of 55 40-foot containers were loaded.
The route exits China at the Manzhouli, Inner Mongolia border crossing to Russia, and then heads west to Moscow after linking up with the Trans-Siberian railway. The route is about 9,000km long. The goods being transported include auto parts, building materials, home appliances, fabrics, clothing, home furnishings, and so on. Many are Chinese manufactured replacements for European products.
The China Railway Express was originally launched in Chongqing, and then began to depart from other Chinese, mostly inland cities, such as Chengdu, Xi’an, and Lanzhou. In the past ten years, other cities have gradually joined the China Railway Express, such as the newly opened China Railway Express hub in Shenyang.
The China-Europe Railway Express between Beijing and Moscow reflects the increasing trade and transportation flow between China and Russia, which has grown to record levels, illustrating subtle geopolitical changes in the Eurasian logistics landscape.
In fact, there has long been connectivity between Moscow and various cities in China, the significance of this particualr train is that it is the first regular, scheduled service that operates directly between the two cities.
A high-speed route has long been planned however this cannot operate on the existing Trans-Siberian routes due to congestion – the route is already at near capacity. New high-speed track would need to be laid – with discussions underway to link Russia’s existing high-speed rail from Kazan to Beijing although completion will not be until 2030 at the earliest.