Southeast Asia speeds up rail connection with China, for fruit’s sake
Vietnam has officially delivered its first batch of lychees to China via rail. The train left from Bac Giang in Vietnam and arrived in to the border city of Pingxiang in China on 15 June, taking approximately twelve hours. With this newly-delivered 56-ton shipment of lychees added to China-Vietnam rail traffic, one can observe the uprising rail connection between China and Southeast Asia, specifically for the sake of fruit transportation.
Although this is officially claimed as the first lychee rail shipment, it is not the first time lychee has been transported on the same route. Media reports that a trial shipment on rail enabled three tons of lychees to be delivered to China on 8 June. With this new logistics service between China and Vietnam, the rail link could fulfill a daily demand of around 200 to 300 tons of lychee.
Not only is the Chinese market craving lychees, there is also a demand for durian from Thailand. The southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing received its first batch of durian delivered via rail on 11 June, accounting for 500 tons. This patch of durian was initially transported by truck from Chanthaburi province in Thailand to Vientiane in Laos. From there, the products were reloaded onto trains and reached China via the China-Laos railways. It took three days for the train to arrive in Chongqing. Why is rail attracting more and more Southeast Asian fruit?
As one of the most time-sensitive products, fresh fruit transportation requires a steady commitment to punctuality. For fresh fruit importers, transit time is everything. Taking the new Chongqing-Thailand durian service as an example, traditionally, the product is exported either by sea or via multiple rail service layovers, which inevitably stretches the delivery time, especially during reloading.
Now, with a direct train service connecting Laos with Chinese cities, Thailand can utilise Laos as a transit point for more efficient delivery with only one stopover. Evidently, the China-Laos railway holds strategic prominence in the Southeast Asian fruit export supply chain, as can already be seen from last year.
To commemorate the anniversary of the commencement of the China-Laos railway, a new fruit service was launched last year. The first train loaded with fruit from Thailand and Laos entered China on 2 December. The convoy consisted of 25 reefer containers filled with fruit, including bananas from Laos and longans from Thailand, with a total value of over 780,000 euros. From road to rail, with more train services ready to depart, Southeast Asian countries can expedite their fruit delivery to China, satisfying the appetite on the other end.
- China-Laos Railway freight volumes note immense growth in Q1 2023
- Thailand could join the railway connection to China in 5 years
- Vietnam invests in new rail line to connect with China-Laos railway