A 41-car container train, which left Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, on June 8, bearing a new logo for the China-Europe rail cargo network, arrived in Lodz, Poland, over the weekend.
The Chengdu-Europe express railway service, which connects Chengdu, an economic powerhouse in west China, with Lodz, a new-emerging traffic hub in Europe, opened in April, 2013. It has brought precision instruments, IT products, and clothes from China to Europe, and transported European food, wine and cars on its return trip, according to Chengdu port and logistics office.
Since its maiden journey, the two-way cargo train service has made 300 journeys, according to Chengdu port and logistics office.
Thirty of the cars carried electronic components produced by China's leading home appliances manufacturer TCL. They were bound for its branch in Poland where they will be assembled into color TV sets and sold throughout Europe. Other cars were loaded with products from the PC makers Lenovo and Dell.
TCL started to transport freight to Poland via the express railway service in January 2015, said Liu Guifang, a project director with TCL multimedia operation center. As of March 2016, TCL had transported about 468 tonnes of cargo worth 53.72 million yuan (8.2 million U.S. dollars) to Poland via the route, according to Liu.
"It used to take 27 days by sea to ship electronic components from Guangdong to our processing plants in Poland. The Chengdu-Poland express railway service saves about 15 days and costs almost the same," Liu said."The railway route provides a much more direct and convenient way to Europe."
Currently, six cargo trains are scheduled to leave Chengdu for Lodz while two or three trains return every week. The route is expected to see 400 trips between the two cities in 2016, the Chengdu port and logistics office said.
Chengdu and Lodz have set up offices to facilitate bilateral trade.
Over the past three years, since the Chengdu-Poland cargo route was launched, Sichuan Province has developed close trade relation with Poland. The trade volume between Sichuan and Poland was 123 million U.S. dollars in 2015, according to Chengdu Customs.
The Chengdu-Europe cargo train service has also been extended to neighboring provinces and even some southern and eastern Chinese cities such as Shenzhen, Xiamen and Ningbo. In Europe, two new routes connect the city of Lodz with Germany and the Netherlands.
On June 8, container trains also departed from the cities of Chongqing, Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Changsha, Suzhou, Dongguan and Yiwu for Europe, bearing the unified new logo, which integrates the Chinese railway logo and its English abbreviation, in red and black.
More than 1,700 China-Europe container trains have been launched since the first left southwest China's Chongqing for Germany's Duisburg in 2011. Most of these trains passed through Poland while the Chengdu-Europe cargo train and "Sumanou" from Suzhou to Warsaw, two non-stop trains, run from China directly to Poland.
The China-Europe trains have helped China-Poland economic ties and are seen by many as a powerful support for the development of the China-proposed Belt and Road initiative.
"Compared to shipping, the China-Europe container trains are faster. And it is cheaper than air freight," said Liu Xilin, general manager of the Shanghai branch of China Railway Container Transport Co. Ltd.
The latest train from the eastern city of Suzhou, bound for Warsaw, capital of Poland, also departed on June 8 and arrived last weekend. It transported electronic products, branded clothes and sophisticated instruments manufactured in Suzhou and Shanghai, according to Liu.
Regular train left Suzhou for Warsaw two or three times every week, Liu said.
"Our company will set up a branch in Poland and step up cooperation with European logistic companies to promote China-Europe container trains and find more freight sources for return trip," Liu added.
In east China's coastal city of Ningbo, Zhang Rong, manager of a trade company, told Xinhua that he used to import goods from Spain. "Now, we have more goods from Poland, such as Polish milk and cookies. We see Poland as a major trading partner," he said.
"Chinese customers used to prefer products imported from Western Europe. Actually, some goods, like agricultural products, made in Poland and some other Central and Eastern European countries are of excellent quality and cheaper," Zhang said.
Zhang said he has confidence in bilateral trade between China and Central and Eastern European countries in the future thanks to the remarkable market potential.