To ensure more cargoes are sent after the first test cargo train from China and Latvia, it is important to ensure track load in both directions. Companies working in the transit industry are rather sceptical about railway transport connectivity with China could exceed marine transports and compensate the loss of Russian cargoes, as reported by De Facto programme of LTV.
The test train carrying goods departed from China’s eastern city of Yiwu. This city is considered one of the largest wholesale markets in the world. There is a regular train coursing between Yiwu and Madrid. It is the longest railway route in the world. Now there is a test route connecting Latvia and China.
The 40 containers carried by train brought shoes, socks, other types of apparel and plumbing equipment. Containers will not be opened in Latvia. Instead they will be carried to port. After Riga, the trail will depart for Belarus, as confirmed by LDz President Edvins Berzins. He denies the trip has caused losses for the company: «We did not pay anything for this train. We have even made some money. Why only some money? The main point of the pilot project is to understand the technology and how trains can make the road».
Before this train carrying clothes, there was a train carrying tomato paste from China ten years ago.
Sending cargoes by sea is three to four times cheaper. A trip by sea lasts longer than a month, whereas a trip by railway is usually two weeks.
The Silk Road may experience increased transports, as this is what China wants. It wants to enhance trade relations with Europe on land. There are currently approximately ten routes connecting China and Europe. Transport connectivity is the most intensive through Brest on the Belarusian-Polish border. For example, German Deutsche Bahn organizes railway connectivity between China and Europe nearly every day. Last year, the company carried 30,000 containers.
«A train brings 40 containers about once a week or once in two weeks. I doubt we can accomplish five trains every day. It would be ideal. It is unlikely that this will happen, however. The question is whether or not there is enough to carry to Scandinavia, because the service depends on the cargo volume,» – says Riga Container Terminal’s Chairman Valdis Andersons.
The second obstacle that will decide the longevity of Latvia’s direction is whether or not there is something to send back. Sending back empty containers will not provide returns. This is mentioned by deputy director of China Railway Container Transport Zhong Chen: ‘Once a two way road is established, costs will reduce significantly. Then it will be a stable and beneficial solution.’
China Railway representatives consider sending one train a month to Latvia.
In its search for new cargoes to feed Latvia’s railway and ports, the government has made the most progress with China. Meetings among businessmen were held as part of the recent 16+1 business forum. Progress in other directions is harder to measure.
Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis believes progress is tangible. Nevertheless, he will order Transport Ministry to provide regular reports on its accomplishments, as reported by the programme.