The first of the Silk Road trains destined exclusively for Antwerp arrived at the European port on May 12, 2018.
The freight train left the Chinese port of Tangshan on April 26, taking the direct rail link between China and Antwerp — part of the transnational Chinese 'Belt and Road Initiative', which is reviving trade routes between Asia and Europe.
The route travels via the border cross of Alashankou, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Poland and Germany — taking 16 days to cover a distance of 11,000 kilometres.
The train was loaded with 34 containers transporting industrial minerals and a range of productions such as paper, ceramics and cosmetics, which will be unloaded at Euroports, where they will be distributed across Europe via their bulk terminal.
Marc Van Peel, Chairman of the Board of Directors at the Antwerp Port Authority, said: “China is the fourth biggest partner country for Antwerp, with an annual traffic volume of nearly 14 million tonnes of goods.
“Antwerp is ideally located on both the maritime route and the rail route between Europe and China, and our port is perfectly capable of acting as a transhipment port for trade between China and Africa via rail link.”
Geert Gekiere, Managing Director of Euroports Belgium, stated: “Transport from the Tangshan region via conventional container ships on average takes 35-plus days, but this train manages to do it in a record time of 16 to 20 days and at relatively low costs."