CHINA National Railway (CR) says a focus on improving the Western Land-Sea corridor has resulted in a 75% year-on-year increase in the number of trains using the route, which rose to 4183 in the first three quarters of the year, carrying 416,000 TEU, a 246% increase year-on-year. The growth of cross-border freight from China to Vietnam has been particularly strong, increasing 42% year-on-year to 852,000 tonnes in the first three quarters of 2021.

The corridor is centred on Chongqing municipality in the centre of China, providing a connection from western China to ports in the Beibu Gulf in southern China, as well as links to Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.

CR says it is optimising the timetable for trains operating between Chongqing and the Beibu Gulf, including providing connections with major cities in the southwest region. CR is also centralising its train control services to improve punctuality and the return of empty containers including arranging container return points at freight nodes.

CR is also looking to enhance the quality of logistics services on the corridor by coordinating with shipping companies and ports to build a transport collaboration platform and improve the level of organisation. This includes optimising CR’s e-commerce platform to provide a one-stop shop to process and track freight and predict arrival times, as well as take electronic payments.

Under a five-year plan, CR is accelerating the construction of new lines along the corridor including preliminary work on the Qinjiang - Hong Kong line, and is renovating the western, central and eastern corridors, including installing electrification. The corridor will also be strengthened with the opening of the China - Laos line, which CR says is due to open at the end of the year.