New direct train Europe-China reaches Liège daily

Following the direct line between Liège and Zhengzhou (2018) and between Liège and Yiwu (2019), the Belgian port city now has a third direct link with a Chinese hub: Chengdu. This new Europe-China train was first tested in July 2020, and is now a regular connection with daily departures in the trimodal port of Liège.

The first train arrived from Chengdu on 2 July 2020. It was loaded with medical equipment destined for the UK. Since then, 40 additional trains carrying more than 1.400 containers have arrived. After the transported goods make it to the port of Liège (operated by Renory), they are distributed to the area of Benelux and the UK by boat and train. The rail line, which initially operated once per month, has now reached the point of several itineraries per week.

The train’s journey passes through various countries, such as Kazakhstan, Russia, and Poland, and takes 20 days. In this way, the shipment of products lasts less than three weeks, making it possible to distribute the goods to their final destination even faster.

A stable connection

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences on the rail freight sector, China proved its ability to operate under these unprecedented conditions, ensuring that rail shipments would continue. Besides the fact that the rail lines towards Europe (including service from Zhengzhou to Liège) resumed in early March 2020, the opening of this new rail line a few months later provided another Europe-China direct connection.

As a result, the Liège container terminal (Novandi Group) has established various partnerships, particularly with the rail operator Linéas, to make sure that the rail traffic between Chengdu and Liège is organised and functioning smoothly.

Intermodality at the center

This new link between the trimodal port and China reinforces intermodality in rail transportation while promoting the environmental benefits that come with it, the Autonomous Port of Liège stated.

“It is thanks to this intermodality that it will be possible to reduce the number of trucks on our roads and respond to the concerns of Europe with a view to the reduction of CO2 emissions in transport”, mentioned, among others, Emile-Louis Bertrand, Director General of the Autonomous Port of Liège.

Author: Nikos Papatolios

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is editor of RailFreight.com, online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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