Train traffic from China to Europe suspended
Train traffic from China to the border with Kazakhstan and Mongolia has been suspended, with the exception of scheduled journeys. This suspension was already in place since 8 December and has not been extended till 16 December, 6pm. The reason for the suspension is extreme congestion at the border crossings.
Train journeys to Alashankou (on the border with Kazakhstan) and both Erenhot and Manzhouli (on the border with Mongolia) can only depart if they are scheduled journeys. This suspension was originally until Sunday 13 December. However, that morning China Railways announced the extension of the restrictions.
Although scheduled journeys do depart, space on these trains is also scarce. Some platforms have announced a booking stop. Such is the case for bookings from Xi’an in December. New bookings cannot be made, as there is still a backlog of previously cancelled trains, Xi’an International Dry Port said.
In order to cope with the congestion at the border, China and Kazakhstan are actively negotiating joint measures. Kanat Kobesov, the first deputy general manager of the Kazakhstan National Cargo Company, stated that the company is taking measures to increase throughput and remove barriers to transit to ensure uninterrupted transportation, especially in Dostyk- Alashankou border.
According to the Kazakhstan National Freight Company, it recently reached a cooperation agreement with Urumqi Railway. Under this agreement, 18 trains can be received and passed freely every day at Alashankou Port. The border station of Kazakhstan is ready to ensure the delivery of this number of trains.
Causes of cargo backlog
There are many reasons for the current backlog of goods at border crossings. Winter is the peak season for shipments between China and Europe. This year the volumes are even higher due to the pandemic, as rail has taken over much of the quantities usually shipped by other transport modes.
Coupled with extreme winter weather, port epidemic prevention and control, and some border railway repairs (Polish-German border), all border crossings are still unable to meet the transit reloading demand. This causes delays, which are likely to continue for a while.