Manzhouli has taken steps to improve freight services between China, Europe
A key border railway port has improved its operations to shorten the time it takes for trains to pass through it and to boost the efficiency of cross-border freight services, according to rail officials.
Manzhouli in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, which borders both Mongolia and Russia, is one of six railway ports that China-Europe freight trains pass through.
"The Manzhouli Railway Port is one of the eastern corridors for China-Europe freight trains. About 30 percent of these trains pass through the port," said Zheng Jiaqing, head of the railway station.
Trains from across China arrive at Manzhouli before heading to Russia and other European countries, and trains from Europe that travel through Russia enter China at Manzhouli before heading to other Chinese cities. The efficiency of the railway port is key to the operating times of China-Europe freight trains.
For cross-border trains, one of the most time-consuming procedures is reloading containers at border stations.
The gauge of the railway tracks in China is 1,435 millimeters, but it is 1,520 mm in Russia. Because the railway gauges are different in both countries, cross-border trips involve reloading containers from one track gauge to another.
To cater to the increasing number of China-Europe freight trains, the station last year upgraded its container yard to improve the efficiency of the reloading process. The project involved the building of new tracks and bringing in more cranes to assist with reloading.
Now the yard has four Russian standard gauges and three Chinese standard, which has doubled the capacity for reloading.
"The maximum capacity (the yard) can handle is 840 containers per day," Zheng said.
The first China-Europe freight train left Manzhouli port in September 2013 and traveled for 14 days to reach its destination in Warsaw, Poland. Since then, the number of the trains using the port has grown from one per month to more than 13 per day.
In the past decade, the traffic volume of China-Europe trains at the Manzhouli Railway Port has increased significantly. By August, the number of China-Europe freight trains that had entered and exited the port was 24,316, with 2.31 million containers moved, according to China Railway Harbin Group, the regional operator.
As of August, the total number of China-Europe freight trains that had been operated nationwide was 77,000, according to China State Railway Group, the national operator of the service.