The first train exclusively destined for the Port of Antwerp as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has arrived at the Belgian hub.
The train left the Chinese port of Tangshan in late April and travelled via the border crossing of Alashankou, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Poland and Germany to reach its final destination, having covered a distance of 11,000 km.
The service is an initiative of Tangshan City and Tangshan Port, in collaboration with the Chinese state-owned shipping company Cosco Shipping Lines and the Chinese Railways (CRCT).
Transport from the Tangshan region via conventional container ships on average takes 35 or more days.
Luc Arnouts, director of international networks at Antwerp Port Authority, said: “This direct train link puts our port on the BRI map and will further strengthen our ties with China.”
According to Marc Van Peel, port alderman, Belgium’s premier port is capable of “acting as a transhipment port for trade between China and Africa via rail link”.
The consignee is Cosco Shipping Belgium, which will ensure the forwarding to the end customers.
The train is loaded with a total of 34 containers, containing industrial minerals for use in various industries and productions such as paper and ceramics, toothpaste and cosmetics.
They are unloaded at Euroports, which will transport them to their bulk terminal for subsequent distribution in Europe.
The local Chinese government is planning to run a direct train to Antwerp once or twice per month.
To this end, Tangshan City is striving for closer cooperation with the Port of Antwerp and intends to sign an MoU/Sisterhood Agreement with the City of Antwerp.
CRCT (Chinese Railways) is currently investigating the feasibility of setting up a commercial office in Europe.