Silk Road: start of the regular rail container transport between Xi’an and the Rail Cargo Terminal – BILK

Record time: within ten days the first train from China arrived to the Rail Cargo Terminal – BILK via the Záhony–Eperjeske transhipment station, in collaboration with ZÁHONY-PORT. The container train with consumer goods covered more than 7000 km.

This marks the starting signal for regular container transport by rail between the city of Xi’an – with 13 million inhabitants –  and Budapest. According to schedule, the Chinese goods are planned to arrive to Hungary weekly on rail on the Silk Road, leading through Kazakhstan and the Ukraine.

The handling of the trains is organised by the Rail Cargo Group, and once the train reaches the territory of the European Union Rail Cargo Operator is responsible for the operative tasks.

Organising the continental transport is an extraordinary task. During the transport, a gauge change is required twice and also the different rail regulations and technologies need to be considered. Due to the difficult conditions, a decade ago there was no scheduled train connection available between China and Europe. The rapidly growing trade activities justified the enhanced use of the Silk Road, especially when considering the aspects of rapidity. Although the capacity of a ship is approximately 220 times larger compared to a container train, its term to Europe is three times longer. This motivated also the establishment of the regular connection between 34 cities of Europe and 35 cities of China. Rail Cargo Group is the first railway undertaking to have handled a train between Xi’an and the Rail Cargo Terminal - BILK. The first test train ran via the Chinese-Kazakh border crossing Alashankou/Dostyk and arrived to Hungary via Batjevo/Eperjeske.

The goods from China arrive to Hungary partly via the port of Piraeus or the Adriatic ports and partly also via the continental rail corridors. On average the trains leave the seaports for Central Europe every second day.

In the Hungarian export and import relations Rail Cargo Operator - Hungaria Kft. is involved in the handling of 1600 trains per year and thus manages a total volume of goods of around 120 thousand TEU. This reduces the burden on the environment by 60 000 truck journeys and several hundred thousand tonnes of greenhouse gases.