The freight train left the Chinese port of Tangshan on 26 April and arrived in Antwerp on 12 May, a day later than originally scheduled, and was the first ever direct train between China and the Belgian port.
The train’s consignee was Cosco Shipping Belgium and had 34 containers onboard, which were unloaded at Euroports for distribution in Europe. The train travelled via the border crossing of Alashankou, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Poland and Germany
The train took 16 days to reach Antwerp from Tangshan compared to a 35 day plus transit by containership. The service is planned to be run once or twice a month.
Given the small volumes involved the train may be an alternative for shippers that might otherwise have to turn to much more costly air freight to reduce transit times.
Marc Van Peel, Antwerp port alderman, said: “China is the fourth biggest partner country for Antwerp, with an annual traffic volume of nearly 14m tonnes of goods. Antwerp is ideally located on both the maritime route and the rail route between Europe and China, and our port is perfectly capable of acting as a transhipment port for trade between China and Africa via rail link.”
The service is an initiative of Tangshan City & Tangshan Port, in collaboration with the Chinese state-owned shipping company Cosco Shipping Lines and the Chinese Railways (CRCT).