The first pilot container train co-organised by Latvian and Chinese railways arrived at Riga Central railway station today. The train came all the way from the city of Yiwu in China, via Zabaykalsk in Russia, before finally arriving in Riga.
Thanks to the successful cooperation of all the partners involved, the train was organised in a very short period of time not typical for the transport industry – it is less than four months since the Latvian and Chinese railways signed the initial agreement on the development of container train traffic between the two countries.
Latvian Minister of Transport Uldis Augulis said: “The arrival of this train is an excellent illustration of the fact that in the transport industry distance is a nice challenge, not an obstacle. However, it was an enormous job and everybody involved has earned our gratitude. I am happy to greet the Chinese train in Latvia, and I truly hope that the arrival of similar trains will soon become an ordinary, everyday event!”
The President of Latvijas Dzelzceļš SJSC (Latvian Railways), Edvīns Bērziņš, commented: “Together with our partners such as the Chinese railways, the Yiwu platform, Interrail AG and TransContainer, we have managed to bring China closer to Europe via Latvia! Less than four months after signing the Letter of Intent between Latvijas Dzelzceļš SJSC and the Chinese railways regarding the establishment of container train traffic, today we are not only welcoming the first Yiwu-Riga test train but already working on new routes and proposals.”
The pilot train’s route started in China in the rapidly-developing city of Yiwu, not far from Shanghai. The train crossed the China-Russia border near Zabaykalsk and travelled all the way through Russia to the Latvian capital, Riga. The total length of this route exceeds 11,000 km, and the train covered around 1,200 km per day in some parts of Russia. The train carried textiles, bathroom equipment and household goods.
The Deputy Mayor of Yiwu, Xiong Tao stated: “Representing a rapidly developing city, whose companies have an essential need for convenient and efficient logistics to transport their goods to any place in the world, I can assure you that Latvia has truly made its mark on our Eurasian logistics map with this pilot train. More than that – our commercial platform “Yiwu Timex Industrial Investment Co.” has already included Riga on its map of global transport routes, and considers rail transport the most promising and important freight transport mode to Europe.”
The key to the successful development and implementation of the pilot train route is efficient cooperation between the logistics companies – Latvijas Dzelzceļš subsidiary LDZ Logistics and TransContainer – which together were able to offer the most suitable solution for the client.
LDZ Logistics Chairman of the Board Verners Lūsis said: “Arranging a new route practically from zero is a truly enormous undertaking, especially given the time constraints. We cannot deny the fact that there was a sense of disbelief and scepticism even among professionals – and not only in Latvia. However, today I have a very special feeling – not of a job completed, but of a job well started.”
TransContainer JSC Director of Logistics Yuri Sukmanov stated: “From the TransContainer terminal at Zabaykalsk station, where the containers were transhipped, the train took only seven days to reach the Latvian border, ahead of schedule. That was possible only thanks to successful cooperation with our Latvian and Chinese partners. The complex approach allows us to develop customised logistics solutions, especially for container traffic along the China-Europe-China route.”
After the successful arrival of the train, Latvijas Dzelzceļš and “China Merchants China-Belarus Commercial and Logistics Cooperation” signed a memorandum of understanding whereby they undertake to cooperate in developing maritime and rail transport, especially with regard to the China-Belarus “Great Stone” project and the development of efficient traffic between China and Scandinavia.
For their part, LDZ Logistics and TransContainer JSC signed a strategic cooperation memorandum on the development of transit corridors, specifically the speed and quality thereof, in order to attract more Chinese cargo to the Latvian transit corridor.
Due to the great interest in this route among customers, Latvian railways plan to run a regular monthly container train on the Yiwu-Riga route. The next two trains are already scheduled.
LDZ Logistics develops its container train routes using a complex, multimodal approach based on the “one stop shop” principle, thus ensuring that the dispatching company has as simple and advantageous a logistics chain as possible from producer to client.
Latvijas Dzelzceļš (Latvian Railway) Group is a state-owned group of companies with six subsidiaries in charge of rail cargo transport and logistics, international passenger transport, infrastructure construction and maintenance, rolling stock repair and maintenance, railway security, and allocation of railway infrastructure capacity.