The first trial train with containers from China arrived on Monday, November 13, at the cargo port in Bratislava. The train’s 11,000-km journey from the Chinese town of Dalian via Russia and the Ukraine to Slovakia lasted 17 days. The train was welcomed by Transport Minister Arpád Érsek (Most-Híd), State Secretary for Finance and Government Proxy for the Silk Road initiative Dana Meager and Chinese Ambassador to Slovakia Lin Lin. The number of such trains should gradually increase and next year their number might be as high as 500.
“The fact that the goods travelling across Asia will be transported via the territory of Slovakia in order that they get further into Europe is a huge success and an excellent commercial opportunity,” said Minister Érsek. “The transport capacities of Slovakia are today far from being fully utilised. I firmly believe that we are only at the beginning of successful cooperation.”
The train carried the goods in dozens of containers, destined for customers throughout the whole of central Europe. Before they arrived in Bratislava, the containers needed to be re-loaded from wide-gauge rails to narrow-gauge rails at the Dobrá terminal in the Košice Region, near the Slovak-Ukrainian border. The containers will now be transported to their destinations via rail or road transport.
Rail-freight transport from China to Slovakia has been resumed after a break of over one year. The train is the first one ever whose route will cross almost the whole of Slovak territory.
“Naturally, these trains should not go back to China empty. We need to think it over,” said Érsek. “We have the option to fill these trains on their way back.”
As of next year, trains between the Chinese city of Dalian and Bratislava’s cargo port will operate once a week and twice a week from the second half of 2018.
“Rail transport from China to Europe via Slovakia so far has proven that this route is not only fast but also safe,” said Meager, adding that not only the transport itself but also the so-called economic corridors are being mentioned, within which significant movements in the field of investments can be expected in the upcoming years. “I view the Silk Road project as one of the most important pillars for the further development of Slovakia’s national economy.”
Ambassador Lin said that the length of this new route is shorter and more efficient than the original one.
“I believe this train’s operation will enhance even more Slovak-Chinese cooperation in the field of transport and logistics,” he said.
The Chinese Communications-Transport Association estimates that around 500 trains will run from China to Europe via Slovakia in 2018. In 2020, China plans to dispatch 5,000 such trains a year, of which around 2,000 might cross Slovakia.
Projects for building logistics and commercial facilities for cargo trains have been prepared in eastern Slovakia. In addition to increased employment, this should also lead to more trade and income for Slovakia.