Railway boosts rise of Chongqing
Two yeas ago, President Xi Jinping laid out a plan for building China's Yangtze River Economic Belt.
Since then, the ambition has been implemented in Chongqing municipality with help from an international rail route.
Chongqing is important since it connects two major economic belts respectively along the Yangtze River and the ancient Silk Road.
Both of the giant programs require convenient railway transportation.
In 2011, the southwestern city launched the country's first regular freight train service towards Europe.
Over the years, it has been developed into an artery rail link across Eurasia, playing an unmatched role in promoting the Belt and Road Initiative.
Qi Dan's company provides logistics services along the Yu'Xin'Ou rail line between Chongqing and Duisburg, Germany.
He has witnessed how the rail link has become what it is today.
"The idea to open the rail route first emerged as the inland city planned an industrial upgrading in 2000, but it was not brought into practice until 2008 when the city decided to invite IT companies like HP and Asus, which required a significant improvement of the local logistics system. That inspired the municipal government to rejuvenate the city through opening a land-based route to Europe which they hoped could turn the city into a business hub. On January 28, 2011, the first train rolled out on the China-Europe line."
After years of effort, the rail route now stretches 11-thousand kilometers.
It passes through the Alataw Pass into Kazakhstan, and moves through Russia, Belarus and Poland.
The railway is at least 40 days faster than the sea route from Shanghai to Europe and also over 80 percent cheaper than air travel.
On December 28, 2017, the rail link saw a further increase in the capacity with the opening of a new terminal on its eastern end.
The Chongqing Guoyuan Container Terminal is a water, railway and road-combined transport hub.
Huang Ji, with Chongqing Port Logistics Limited Company, explains why it's significant.
"The port helps realize the seamless connection of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Yangtze River Economic Belt. Previously, shipped goods had to take a road trip before boarding the train. But now, that process is not needed. It's significant."
Currently, the Guoyuan port is capable of dealing with 30 million tons of goods every year, or 2 million TEUs.
Wang Zhiqiang, deputy director of Chongqing Development and Reform Commission, is upbeat about the railway's prospect.
"Since it opened, more than 1,500 trains have set out from Chongqiang, accounting for a quarter of all regular cargo train runs between China and Europe in the same period. Those trains conveyed over 120 thousand TEUs, contributing a lot to the expansion of China-Europe trade. Now, it has become the most dynamic cargo rail link between China and Europe."