As mainland China transitions into a second period of economic opening up and reform, the Zhengzhou-Europe Shuttle Train is ready to transport growing shipments of inventory from its home base in Henan province to markets in Europe. A key overland route that will be an integral part of China's "Belt and Road" initiatives, the 10,214km journey begins in Zhengzhou - a major hub for the country's "Look West" policy - and leaves the nation at the Alataw Pass in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region before traversing central and eastern Europe to reach Hamburg, Germany. The train offers a 15-day delivery time - approximately half the time of traditional shipping by sea - and is also considered safer, with weather conditions presenting less of a risk. According to the Zhengzhou International Inland Port, the westward rails transported 9,461 tonnes of cargo worth about 307 million yuan (HK$388.5 million) in 14 trains in the second half of 2013. That figure rocketed to cargo worth 884 million yuan in 20 trains in the first half of 2014, an increase of 187 per cent. The nation first opened up in Deng Xiaoping's dramatic ushering in of "socialism with Chinese characteristics" in 1979. A major part of the nation's plans for its second age of economic reform will be the Belt and Road initiatives, referring to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. At the core of these initiatives are the interwoven concepts of the "Look West" policy - the desire to develop China's traditionally underdeveloped western regions by moving manufacturing inland, and an emphasis on developing economic relations with central and South Asian nations - and a recognition of the importance of logistics and connectivity, the end goal being European markets via overland routes. In his annual government work report address given at the National People's Congress meetings in March, Premier Li Keqiang said China would "move faster to strengthen infrastructure connectivity with our neighbours, simplify customs clearance procedures, and build international logistics gateways". With increasing interest from other mainland provinces and neighbouring Asian nations, such as South Korea and Japan, the future for the Zhengzhou-Europe International Shuttle Train is bright, and only set to get brighter as the nation's development of the Silk Road Economic Belt grows.