New freight rail line links Europe to China
A new era in freight rail was launched earlier this week.
On Monday, the first freight rail train left the Port of Antwerp in Belgium en route to its destination to the city of Chongqing in central China.
This much-anticipated freight rail connection links Western Europe with China as well as connecting the Ukraine and Russia in the process.
The new route will begin running one train per day at first on the 10,000 mile trip, which will initially take between 20-25 days to complete. Once operations are running more smoothly, the hope is the Antwerp-Chongqing route can be completed by a freight rail train in 15-20 days.
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There is some fear among sea freight companies that the new route will take away from sea shipments to China, but one official thinks that won’t be the case.
“The Port of Antwerp (has positioned) itself as the hub for Europe,” Mark Van Peel, President of Antwerp Port Authority, told the Handy Shipping Guide. “The rail connection will be complementary to maritime flows, and in this way (should) generate extra maritime traffic.”
Part of the reason for Van Peel’s conclusion lies in the fact that Chongqing is located 1,000 miles inland. Sea freight companies looking to ship to large Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Hong Kong and Guangzhou shouldn’t see their operations disrupted by the new freight rail link.