Latvia greets first trans-Eura­sia cargo train from China

China Daily (USA) - - CEEC SPECIAL - By XIN­HUA in Riga, Latvia

The first trans-Eura­sia con­tainer train link­ing China and Latvia ar­rived in Riga, Latvia, on Satur­day, mark­ing a mile­stone in the his­tory of the two coun­tries’ co­op­er­a­tion in trans­port and lo­gis­tics sec­tors. Amid the sound­ing of trum­pets and drums, the bright-col­ored freight train con­sist­ing of 84 con­tain­ers en­tered the Cen­tral Sta­tion of Riga at 1:20 pm, and was greeted by a huge round of ap­plause from a crowd of govern­ment of­fi­cials, en­trepreneurs, rail work­ers and jour­nal­ists.

The direct freight route was then an­nounced suc­cess­fully in­au­gu­rated at a wel­com­ing cer­e­mony on the plat­form as rep­re­sen­ta­tives from both coun­tries cut through a long red rib­bon with golden scis­sors.

The train de­parted on Oct 20 from Yiwu, a vi­brant man­u­fac­tur­ing hub in east China’s Zhe­jiang prov­ince, and fin­ished a jour­ney of more than 11,000 kilo­me­ters fol­low­ing the China-Rus­sia-Latvia route.

The con­tain­ers were packed with small com­modi­ties made in Yiwu, mainly dec­o­ra­tive items and sou­venirs, saidXiongTao, deputy ma­jor of the city.

“Riga is the des­ti­na­tion of the train, but not of these com­modi­ties. After the ar­rival, they will be dis­trib­uted to dif­fer­ent east­ern Euro­pean or Scan­di­na­vian coun­tries within one to three days,” he said.

Latvia is the first Baltic na­tion to have es­tab­lished a direct rail freight route with China un­der the uni­fied brand China Rail­way Ex­press which refers to all rail routes con­nect­ing China and Europe, thanks to the coun­try’s po­si­tion as a ma­jor trans­port and lo­gis­tics tran­sit in the re­gion.

The project was con­ceived in July dur­ing a visit to China by the Lat­vian Min­is­ter of Trans­port Uldis Augulis, who at Satur­day’s cer­e­mony lauded the tremen­dous ef­forts made by both sides to ful­fill the am­bi­tion within only three months.

“Ev­ery suc­cess story be­gins with an idea to try. China and Latvia made a de­ci­sion to try some­thing un­prece­dented, and now it has been re­al­ized. Alot of hard work has been put into it,” the min­is­ter said.

He hailed the route as a great op­por­tu­nity for both China and Latvia to work shoul­der to shoul­der to bring ben­e­fits for their economies.

“Latvia serves as a gate­way to Europe be­cause of our geo­graphic lo­ca­tion and China opens gates for us to Asia,” he said. “We’re see­ing a good ex­am­ple of our co­op­er­a­tion to­day on this plat­form. If peo­ple want to work to­gether, if they share com­mon un­der­stand­ing of ideas, then they can achieve great re­sults.”

Speak­ing at the cer­e­mony, He Lifeng, deputy head of China’s Na­tional Devel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion, said that the tran­sEura­sia con­tainer trains were a “newor­ga­ni­za­tion model of in­ter­na­tional cargo trans­port” in re­sponse to the ex­pan­sion of in­vest­ment and trade be­tween China and Europe.

He at­trib­uted the re­cent boom in China-Europe rail freight routes to the steady progress made in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Belt and Road ini­tia­tive.

The Belt and Road ini­tia­tive aims to build a trade and in­fras­truc­ture net­work con­nect­ing Asia with Europe and Africa along the an­cient Silk Road routes.

Since the ini­tia­tive be­gan to take shape, more than 2,000 trains have passed from China to Europe along some 40 lines.

“As an old Chi­nese say­ing goes, a one-thou­sand-mile jour­ney can only be com­pleted with in­cre­men­tal steps. We’ll take such steps with Latvia to boost in­vest­ment and trade, and we will wel­come more Latvia prod­ucts to China on the con­tainer trains,” He said.

WANG YAXIONG / XIN­HUA

Peo­ple wel­come the first trans-Eura­sia con­tainer train link­ing China and Latvia in Riga, cap­i­tal of Latvia, on Satur­day.

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