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Express rail to Europe relies on dedicated workers all the way

By ZHANG YI | China Daily | Updated: 2018-07-10 07:34
A China-Europe freight train enters Eurokombi Terminal in Hamburg, Germany, in May. [Photo/Xinhua]

Railway workers are playing a central role in efforts to ensure the smooth operation of the China-Europe Railway Express, which links provinces in China with Europe.

Guo San is one of those workers. He has overseen container handling for 12 years at Alataw Pass Railway Station in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, a northwestern land port connecting to Kazakhstan.

Since its launch in 2011, the express has hauled an increasing amount of goods, boosting infrastructure construction and cooperation along the line as the number of trains has increased, he said.

From March 2011 to the end of June this year, the number of the train trips has exceeded 9,000, transporting about 800,000 containers and connecting 48 Chinese cities with 42 cities in 14 European countries.

"The standards and conventions for freight are different for each country, and we have devoted a lot to negotiating with other countries to reduce the time for cargo clearance," he said.

"The time spent at Alataw Pass Station was reduced from 12 hours to just six over the past seven years, and total transit time for the express was reduced from 25 days to 14, mainly because the time spent at the border was greatly reduced."

At Alataw Pass Station, the difference in the standard track width in China and Kazakhstan requires workers to hoist all containers onto a different train car across the border. "It takes an hour to load a train," he said.

Li Chaojie, a railway inspector in Wuhan, Hubei province, who has checked about 26,000 trains over the past four years, noted: "The railway express transports various foods between China and European countries-for instance, 100,000 crawfish have been delivered from Wuhan to Russia by rail during the World Cup."

Jiang Tong, a train driver from Chongqing, said the speed of this express is faster than typical freight and the load is lighter, so it requires the driver to have greater skill.

"The express involves several drivers for different parts, and it needs all of us," he said.

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