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Cargo railway linking Finland and China opens

With more than 40 containers on it, the cargo train bound for Chinese inland city of Xi'an departed Kouvola, southeastern Finland, on Friday.

It will take 17 days to run 9,000 km to cross the Eurasia continent, passing through countries including Russia and Kazakhstan, before reaching its final destination of the northwest China's Xi'an, one of the oldest cities in China.

Compared with the normal sea freight, the cargo rail line can shorten the travel time by 30 days.

New Trade Channel

Goods packed in the containers are all made in Finland, ranging from machinery, timber, workwear to ship components, according to Jari Gronlund, chief operation officer of Unytrade company.

Founded just in this summer, Unytrade especially serves the newly opened route, said Gronlund, who believes the only railway route linking Scandinavia and China will open a new channel to bring more Nordic products to the nations along the route.

Olli-Pekka Hilmola, logistics professor at Lappeenranta University of Technology, told Finnish national broadcaster Yle that a regular train connection from Kouvola to China would be important to the Finnish economy.

According to Li Zhao, Assistant of General Manager of Xi'an International Inland Port Investment & Development Group, the goods will be further transported to various markets in China after arriving in Xi'an.

Being the main operator of the multinational project, the Group has outsourced the transportation in Finland to VR, the country's state-owned railway monopoly, and the other sections to the railway companies of Russia and Kazakhstan accordingly.

As planned, a total of five trains would run between Kouvola and Xi'an by the end of this year. At the same time, a train would depart Xi'an towards Kouvola every week.

Li said the running may start to pace up if the trade goes smoothly and hopefully a train of goods would be sent every day in the near future.

Enhanced Integration

So far, hundreds of China-EU cargo trains have been running through the central Asia each year, but the new line diverted to Kouvola would serve as a new chapter for economic ties and cultural communication, said Murat Nurtleuov, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Finland.

He reminded the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China, which was later supported by dozens of countries especially in Asia and eastern Europe, saying now that Finland has been part of it, a new direction is found.

By launching the railway route, said Chinese ambassador to Finland Chen Li "we have achieved the communication among the four countries, which are China, Finland, Kazakhstan and Russia, the connectivity in facilities, the smooth flow of trade activities, the financial integration as well as the commonality among the people."

[Source: Xinhua, Kouvola, Fin, 10Nov17]

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