China and Russia aim to develop more fixed timetable trains

Image: China Railway

Liu Zhenfang, the chairman of China Railway, met with Oleg Belozyorov, CEO of Russian Railways, on 28 April. One of the meeting’s most significant outcomes concerned the willingness of the two parties to promote the expansion of a fixed timetable for China-Europe trains.

This meeting followed up Putin and Xi Jinping’s meeting in March, during which they reached a consensus and published a joint statement for the two countries. The statement mentioned that “the two parties will strengthen cooperation in the field of transport, improve cross-border infrastructure, enhance the capacity of terminals, and ensure their stable operation.”

Liu and Belozyorov made the statement a bit more concrete. For instance, they highlighted the joint promotion of a China-Europe Express with fixed timetables along with the development of new railway products and digitised transportation. The fixed timetable will constructively improve the timeliness of the China-Europe Express.

Proven success

The first fixed timetable China-Europe Express train departed on 26 October 2022 from Xi’an’s International Dry Port. In just ten days, it arrived in Duisburg, setting a new record for the running time of China-Europe Express.

Ever since the fixed timetable trains were put into regular operation, they have run steadily with the frequency of one train per week. According to DB Cargo Eurasia, the average delivery time from Xi’an to Duisburg in 2023 is 12 days.

With the introduction of the fixed timetable, the China-Europe Express could be scheduled like passenger trains. Therefore, following the schedules, the operating parties involved could reduce the transit time in advance.

For Belozyorov, the head of Russian Railways, developing such train services with China Railway is of utmost importance since it will also bring more stability and competitiveness to the trains running between China and Russia, and the transportation from Beijing to Moscow will be more “predictable.”

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Author: Chengfan Zhao

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