CHINA's northwestern province of Gansu plans to have a railway of 6,000 kilometres by the end of the year that will link all 14 cities and prefectures in the province.
The new railway will give Gansu an edge over coastal provinces in the competition for industrial and infrastructure facilities, according to Gansu governor Liu Weiping.
"The railway network development will facilitate Gansu's exports of agricultural, heavy industry and new energy products to Central Asia and Eastern Europe through international rail cargo services," Governor Liu said.
According to official statistics, 78 per cent of the CNY800 billion (US$127.7 billion) in investment has been spent on railway building in western and central China last year, or 86 per cent of the country's new rail facilities in 2014, reported China Daily.
Gansu started an international rail cargo service between Wuwei and Almaty in Kazakhstan last year. Currently the train takes five days to make the 2,646-kilometre trip.
It can save 80 per cent of the cost compared with air shipments, and is $510 cheaper per container compared with road transportation, which is a major incentive for the Eurasian Land Bridge or the New Silk Road, a rail transport route for moving freight from China to western Europe.
The international rail freight service is expected to reach Rotterdam in the Netherlands via Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland and Germany in 2016.
"With many manufacturing companies moving their facilities to both Europe and inland China, there is an increasing demand for logistics and transportation services in these two fast-growing markets," said Lanzhou City Communist Party chief Yu Haiyan.
Gansu won 83 major trade and investment deals with countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt in 2014 and its trade volume with these trading partners rose five per cent compared to the previous year.
Mr Yu added Air China Cargo will launch air cargo services from Lanzhou to destinations in Central Asia and Eastern Europe in the second half of this year, in a bid to diversify its trading methods with countries along the Silk Road's economic belt.
Source : HKSG.