An employee operates a crane at a container station in Kunming, Yunnan province, on Feb 7. (CHEN CHANG / FOR CHINA DAILY)
The China-Laos-Thailand round-trip train, an extension of the China-Laos Railway, was successfully launched on Tuesday. The new efficient, stable cold chain channel is expected to inject new impetus into trade between China and member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
The train, which runs between Kunming, Yunnan province, and Bangkok, Thailand, consists of 19 cold chain containers able to carry 286 metric tons of fresh vegetables, with a total travel time of 55 hours.
According to China Railway Kunming Group Co Ltd, the operator of the railway, the train will first travel to the Vientiane station in Laos, undergo transshipment and then arrive in Bangkok. Compared with the previous mode of railway plus highway transportation, the transportation time is one day shorter and the cost is at least 20 percent lower. When the train travels back, it will carry a full load of seasonal fruit such as longan and durian.
Xiao Kunman, chief executive officer of the Southeast Asia branch of ZTO Express, said that the China-Laos-Thailand round-trip train creates a full-link service network integrating Customs clearance, cold chain transportation, logistics guarantee, supply chain and financial services, providing efficient, stable, convenient and low-cost railway logistics services between China and Southeast Asia.
Zhou Mi, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said: "Trade between China and Thailand is highly complementary and market potential between the two countries is huge. The operation of the China-Laos-Thailand round-trip train helps to cut the logistics costs of bilateral trade and offers a more stable transportation guarantee.
"This is beneficial for enterprises to arrange production and operation in advance and offers support for the revival of the China-ASEAN economy. In addition, it is creating room for the industry integration and innovation of regions along the railway line," he added.
With the implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership pact in January 2022, China and ASEAN have closer trade relations, more frequent material flows and more urgent demand for cross-border logistics channels. As a landmark project of the Belt and Road Initiative, the railway is building up an efficient and convenient international logistics channel between China and ASEAN, and transportation demand continues to rise, demonstrating great vitality and vigor, industry experts said.
"We are strengthening the organization of cold chain goods, boosting the communication and coordination with the Customs department, actively promoting the transit mode and minimizing the time of Customs clearance. The China-Laos-Thailand round-trip train carries goods both ways, greatly cutting time and costs," said Xu Chao, deputy general manager of the container center of Kunming Railway, one terminus of the round-trip train.
The cross-border transportation of the China-Laos Railway covers countries and regions involved in the BRI, including Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Singapore. The variety of goods has increased from 10 to over 1,200. Official data showed that currently, China-Laos Railway has carried more than 2.5 million tons of goods.
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