INTERVIEWS: First Trial Freight Train from China Arrives in Bratislava

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Bratislava, November 13 (TASR) – The first trial freight train from China arrived on Monday at the cargo port in Bratislava, where it was welcomed by Transport and Construction Minister Arpad Ersek (Most-Hid), Finance Ministry State Secretary and Government Proxy for the Silk Road initiative Dana Meager and Chinese Ambassador to Slovakia Lin Lin.
Rail freight transport from China to Slovakia has been resumed after a break of over one year. “It is a significant event for Slovakia, as the Chinese train is coming to Bratislava after a year. I think we’ll not stay just in the trial operation, but we’ll go further in this,” said Ersek.
The train’s journey from the Chinese town of Dalian via Russia and Ukraine to Slovakia lasted 17 days. The train is carrying goods in dozens of containers, destined for customers throughout the whole of Central Europe. The containers will now be transported to their destinations via rail or road transport.
The train is the first one ever whose route will cross almost the whole of Slovak territory. Before they arrive in Bratislava, the containers need to be switched from broad-gauge rails to narrow-gauge rails at Dobra terminal [Kosice region] near the Slovak-Ukrainian border.
“Naturally, these trains should not go back to China empty, we need to think it over. We have the option to fill these trains on their way back,” said Ersek. 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 as of 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,” stressed Meager. According to her, not only 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 of further developing Slovakia’s national economy,” she said.
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 incomes for Slovakia.