Sea-rail intermodal trains give leg up to foreign trade at Qinzhou Port


As a gateway to the sea for the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, a trade and logistics passage jointly built by provincial-level regions in western China and ASEAN countries, Qinzhou Port in Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region has been actively promoting its advantages in sea-rail intermodal transportation, continuously unleashing its potential in foreign trade.

In the first half of this year, the total import and export value completed by provinces along the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor via Qinzhou Port reached nearly 59.5 billion yuan ($8.41 billion), a year-on-year increase of 19.6 percent.

Six hours after a cargo ship carrying 35 containers of Thai durians docked at a deep-water berth of Dalanping South Operation Area of the Qinzhou Port, all relevant customs clearance procedures were completed. Soon, these durians were taken to the Qinzhou Port East Railway Station, where they were shipped to supermarkets and wet markets across the country through cold-chain trains.

“In recent years, fruits such as durians, mangosteens, longans, and dragon fruits imported from ASEAN countries have been very popular in the Chinese market,” said Lin Mao, a sales representative of a fruit supply chain management company in southwest China’s Chongqing municipality.

According to Lin, before the launching of intermodal trains along the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, ordinary goods were usually imported via ports in the Yangtze River Delta region and then transported to the southwestern region through the Yangtze River, which took about 20 days.

“After the opening of the intermodal trains, it only takes two days for fruits like mangosteens and dragon fruits from Vietnam to reach Chongqing after completing customs procedures. Moreover, compared to road transportation, the sea-rail intermodal trains have a larger capacity and are safer,” Lin told People’s Daily.

As a crucial hub for the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, the Qinzhou Port East Railway Station operates around the clock, dispatching up to 21 trains per day.

“To address the challenge of storing perishable items such as fresh fruits and meat, we have introduced refrigerated train services. The temperature variation is controlled within a range of 3 degrees Celsius, effectively reducing losses,” said Zhao Jian, deputy head of Qinzhou Port East Railway Station, Guangxi Yanhai Railway Company Limited.

In addition to shortened shipping time, the cost of sea-rail intermodal transportation is also continuously decreasing. “According to calculations, the transportation cost per ton of talcum powder has dropped from over 500 yuan to 300 yuan, which saves us more than 4 million yuan a year,” said Li Guangqiang, general manager of a talcum powder company in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

As an international land-sea intermodal hub, Qinzhou Port has attracted an increasing number of foreign trade enterprises thanks to its convenient and cost-effective access to the sea. Exports from Chongqing, Sichuan, Gansu, and other regions in China can easily transfer from land to sea transportation at Qinzhou Port. Similarly, imported goods from abroad can also transfer from sea to land transportation there. The seamless connection between maritime and rail transport is made possible by the high level of customs facilitation.

At an automated container terminal of Qinzhou Port, a container vessel was being loaded. Containers carrying automotive parts were hoisted into the ship’s hold. After the loading was completed, the vessel set sail for Indonesia.

“After these containers were cleared, it only took them 80 minutes from entering the checkpoint to being loaded onto the ship, reducing the intermediate logistics process by 12 hours compared to before,” said Chang Peng, chief of the comprehensive business department at Qinzhou Port Customs.

In recent years, Qinzhou Port Customs has adopted a mode of “direct loading upon arrival” for export goods, in an attempt to reduce fees, improve efficiency, and facilitate customs clearance.

Under this mode, exporters only need to submit relevant information in advance, and once their information is verified, they can transport the goods directly from factories to Qinzhou Port for shipment, according to Chang.

Thanks to a series of optimized customs clearance measures, the efficiency of customs clearance at Qinzhou Port has significantly improved. In the first half of this year, customs clearance for imports and exports at Qinzhou Port took 41.85 hours and 1.37 hours on average, respectively, 84.35 percent and 96.46 percent lower compared to 2017.

So far, Qinzhou Port has opened a total of 69 shipping routes, connecting 393 ports in 119 countries and regions. At the same time, the sea-rail intermodal trains of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor that take Qinzhou as a transfer hub now reach 120 stations in 61 cities across 18 provinces in China. This has greatly enhanced the capacity of sea-rail intermodal transportation.

The rapid development couldn’t have been achieved without the construction of intelligent ports and terminals. The first phase of Qinzhou Port’s automated container terminal has been put into operation and is equipped with intelligent and efficient automated handling devices and horizontal transportation devices, said Wen Zuyi, deputy general manager of Beibu Gulf Port.

The project has also established a comprehensive and intelligent security system and an automated container terminal intelligent operation and maintenance platform, achieving a high level of informatization, standardization, and full automation in container terminal operations, Wen noted.

According to him, automated terminals can improve work efficiency by about 30 percent compared to traditional manned terminals, and reduce the number of operators required by 90 percent.


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