The opening of the Vienna-Chengdu line. Photo: OBB

New Vienna-Chengdu railway link launched

A new railway service connecting the Austrian capital Vienna with the Chinese freight hub Chengdu was launched with the first train departing in westbound direction on Thursday 12 April. It is the first direct railway service connecting Austria to the New Silk Road.

The railway link is an initiative of the Rail Cargo Group (RCG), the freight division of the Austrian railway company ÖBB. The 600-meter container train left the capital of Sichuan province in China, travelling a 9,800 kilometre distance through Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine and Slovakia to finally arrive at freight center Vienna South. At the Dobra transhipment terminal on the Ukrainian-Slovak border, the change from broad gauge to standard gauge takes place.

4th RCG connection

The train is operated on behalf of the Chengdu Railway Port Group, CMA CGM and DHL China and carries, among other things, electronic components, lighting materials and household goods. More services on the Chengdu-Vienna line are already in planning.

It is the fourth connection operated by Rail Cargo Group (RCG), which currently runs weekly services between Changsha and Budapest and Chongqing and Duisburg, in addition to ad hoc services between Taiyuan and Lugo. “Since we already handle regular door-to-door transports between Europe and Asia, we wanted to establish a direct connection from China to Vienna. This will make a key contribution to accelerating the networking of trade routes between the two neighbouring continents”, said ÖBB CEO Andreas Matthä.

East-European destinations

RCG explained it has chosen for Chengdu as a destination as from there, most trains are dispatched to Europe. “Chengdu is located on the Chinese Silk Road and the economic belt of the Yangtze River is an essential part of China’s free trade area. It is expanding its position as an industrial centre and hub for international trade and logistics.” Currently, the Chengdu Railway Container Center handles around 2.8 million TEU in container cargo, and it is expected to grow over the coming years.

Meanwhile, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia are becoming increasingly important countries on the New Silk Road. While Poland has proven to be the main gateway to eastern Europe, Hungary and Slovakia are competing to gain similar importance and share in the large westbound volumes transported from China by rail.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

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

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