First Chengdu train arrives in Liege, destined for UK


On Sunday 7 June the first train from Chengdu in China arrived in Liege, Belgium. It was a test shipment organised by Chengdu International Railway Service (CDIRS). The train carrying over 7 million worth masks and protection goggles departed on 24 May and covered the distance in fourteen days.

Over 3 million pieces of relief materials arrived in the Belgian hub and will be distributed mainly in the UK, the final destination of the journey. As a matter of fact, the transportation demand was requested from the UK embassy in China. «When the current capability in sea and air is under stress, rail has proven to be the reliable modality when transporting relief materials while battling against COVID-19», the business strategist of CDIRS, Lei Ming stated.

Not the final destination

«We embarked on this journey to transport cargo to the UK, so the destination is definitely not Liege. But we choose Liege for its convenient location and possibility to distribute the cargo further», Lei Ming explained. Though the Chinese state-owned company is operating fully under subsidy thus accomplishing its task from the government, they do feel the urge to observe the market better and control its budget.

In 2020, The Ministry of Finance in China has set-up the subsidy deduction target for all local China Europe Express platform companies such as CDIRS, Yuxinou (Chongqing) and WAE (Wuhan) etc. Rail freight operations from China to Europe may not be subsidised for more than 30 per cent of the actual costs.

«Certain missions have to be accomplished. But we also want to use this test shipment between Chengdu and Liege as an opportunity to know the market in Belgium better», Lei commented. «As of now, we scheduled eight departures to Liege in June, 10-12 departures in July. If the market responds with high demand, we would like to have this connection as a regular service.»

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