Eurasian unification is holding sway.

Byline: Ikram Sehgal

Despite the ongoing global economic crisis being aggravated by the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, this year has brought outstanding results for the KHORGOS 'dry port' on the border between Kazakhstan and China, which links China with Central Asia, Russia and Europe. On October 6, 2020 when after less than five years of its opening, the 10.000th train crossed the border. Records this year are being broken in terms of freight volume. According to official statistics, 3,243 trains have carried over 4.7 million tonnes of freight across the border in Khorgos from January through September. This is a 32 % more than during the same period in 2019. This goes to prove BRI is not a concept anymore but a functional reality from the east of Asia to the west of Europe and the territories in between. CPEC will be an enormous force-multiplier north to south, connecting China and Central Asia to Middle East and North Africa through Pakistan. Freight rail traffic is an alternative to faster but much more expensive air shipping, sea shipping is cheaper but takes much longer.

It takes five to nine days to airlift cargo from a Chinese terminal to a European terminal. A one-way train trip takes from 15 to18 days, while to deliver cargo by sea takes from 37 to 50 days. Rail transport is good for high-value products, shipping by sea 'freezes' these assets for a longer time, adding additional expenses for clients. In economic terms a two week period from production to market is more economic than around 45-50 days. In terms of environmental considerations this is a favourable alternative because trains produce much less carbon emissions relative to trucks and aircraft.

According to Fujitsu and Siemens, their 'green trains,' which run between China and Germany, emit 95% less carbon monoxide, nonmethane hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere than aircraft do. Because production plants in the north west provinces help reduce transportation compared with the coastal areas and bring jobs and development to the underdeveloped areas. For some time, China has been relocating manufacturing facilities northwest, to be nearer Europe. Similarly the Southwest (Sinkiang Province) is being developed on a fast-track basis.

Twelve years ago, on October 6, 2008, the first demonstration container train ran from China to Hamburg. It was a 17-day trip from Xiangtan, Hunan Province. At the time, many people questioned the logic of this approach...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT