(Yicai Global) April 24 -- China has entered into a China-Europe rail transport cooperative agreement with six Asian and European nations to reinforce mechanisms for instituting regular freight train connections between the two continents.
The deal also holds significant implications for economic and trade exchanges and collaborations between the countries, as well as for the implementation of the One Belt, One Road initiative.
The railroad agencies of China, Belarus, Germany, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Poland and Russia officially signed the Agreement on Deepening Railway Freight Cooperation Between China and Europe on April 20, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported April 22, citing China Railway Corporation (CRC), and noting that, as the first multilateral agreement of its kind inked between key countries covered by the One Belt, One Road initiative, it will strengthen the cooperation ties between China and the other six Asian and European nations.
The agreement seeks to increase the market share of Eurasian freight trains and boost economic growth and trade cooperation between the en-route countries, a CRC official said, adding that the signatories will work together to bolster the brand image of China-Europe international express train services, and introduce effective mechanisms to ensure their development.
Policies laid down in the agreement mainly include: (1) building major rail transport channels between the two continents by integrating relevant railway infrastructure development plans, with the aim of creating secure, efficient, convenient and highly competitive Eurasian rail transport services; (2) revamping coordination of rail transport operations, expediting container transportation, and increasing the operating speed of freight trains in the countries by applying the latest information technology; (3) harmonizing service standards and information platforms, achieving full information tracking, and introducing emergency reporting and collaborative handling mechanisms to ensure freight safety; (4) ramping up China-Europe Express Train marketing activities, expanding relevant train services, and developing new transportation and logistics products to facilitate cross-border ecommerce, international delivery and cold-chain transportation, and continuously improving the goods throughput of rail transport; (5) coordinating customs and other inspection authorities along the Belt and Road to streamline customs clearance processes, and optimize rail port operations; and (6) setting up a dedicated working group and an expert panel for China-Europe rail transport to resolve issues arising from freight train operations in a timely manner.
During the next phase, the CRC will bring together relevant parties to work on the implementation of the agreement, the official noted. Efforts will focus on giving full play to the China-Europe Express Train coordination mechanisms, ensuring sustained and steady development of rail transport services, thus enabling them to play a greater role in the establishment of the Belt and Road program, and thereby driving socio-economic development and improving people's livelihoods in the countries involved.
Since its debut in 2011 as an important pragmatic cooperation under the One Belt, One Road initiative, the China-Europe Express Train program has made 3,557 trips, of which 593 and 198 return trips ran in the first quarter of this year, up 175 percent and 187 percent annually, respectively. The program has been warmly received and supported by people in all countries involved. It currently serves 27 Chinese cities in 21 provinces, and 28 cities in European countries.