Container 'Silk Road' under study

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 December, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 December, 1993, 12:00am

THE Chinese railway authorities are keen to develop the China Landbridge (CLB) into a modern day container ''Silk Road'' linking China and other Far East regions to West Asia and Europe.

This was conveyed to a delegation of the Japan Container Association (JCA) which visited China recently.

The delegation was on a fact-finding mission to see the transport activities along the CLB, the current state of the country's container manufacturing facilities and discuss other transport services-related matters.

According to the delegation's report, the Chinese railway authorities had shown a positive stance to develop container transport services along the CLB by improving equipment and systems and double-tracking the line.

Linked to the railway system in neighbouring Kazakhstan, China Landbridge is an international rail transport route stretching from China's coastal provinces to various points in central Asia and Kazakhstan and further to the Middle East and Europe through its connection with the Russian railway system.

It stretches for 4,131 kilometres from China's coastal gateway port of Lianyungang in Jiangsu province to the Alataw Shankou station on the China-Kazakhstan border.

With a distance of 10,900 km from Lianyungang to Rotterdam, the China Landbridge is half as long as the 20,000 km all-water route.

Even shorter by about 2,000 km than the Siberian Landbridge, the CLB is now commanding attention as a new international multimodal transport route.

The JCA mission exchanged ideas with China's railway authorities and made a tour of the CLB's Alataw Shankou cargo transshipment yard.

The delegation was told that the recently completed yard was mainly used for transshipment of break-bulk cargo and its facilities would have to be upgraded if it were to handle international container traffic.

Since the Druzhba station on the Kazakhstan side of the border also has a cargo transshipment yard, plans are being drawn up to separate the functions of the Druzhba and Alataw Shankou stations.

According to the JCA, it has been suggested that the Druzhba facility be used as a passenger wagon marshalling yard and the Alataw Shankou as a freight wagon marshalling yard, although at present no break-bulk cargo is handled as part of international shipments carried through the two yards.

The JCA has been sending fact-finding missions overseas for the past 25 years, but it was the first time a delegation had been sent to China.

The delegation visited several Chinese cities, including Beijing, Urumqi, Alataw Shankou, Tianjin and Shanghai, as well as Hong Kong.

Mission members also toured the container manufacturing facilities of Shanghai Pacific International Container Co in Shanghai.

and China International Marine Container Ltd in Shekou.