One of the world’s longest railways — a “modern-day silk road” — covers some 11,000 kilometres (7,000 miles) en route from the Chinesee megacity of Chongqing to Duisburg, a key commercial hub in western Germany. It’s an industrial marvel lauded by both nations as AFP’s Estelle Peard discovered.

On Saturday, as part of his landmark visit to Germany, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the last stop on the “Yuxinou” rail line, an industrial feat that promises to revolutionise transport between Europe and Asia.

Duisburg is a steel-making town of around half a million on the confluence of the Rhine and Ruhr rivers that boasts the world’s biggest inland port and is one of Germany’s most important transport and commercial hubs.

Despite the vast distances between them, it takes just 16 days for trains to travel to Duisburg from Chongqing, a sprawling metropolitan symbol of rising China with a population of more than 30 million.

Xi, accompanied by a large delegation and German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, ceremoniously welcomed a freight train crammed with laptops and
electronics after it completed its journey through Central Asia, Russia, Belarus and Poland.

Set up in 2011 by a group of rail companies, the Yuxinou is just 2,000 km short of the world’s longest rail line that links Germany to Shanghai. It has shaved more than 20 days off the sea route.

The route is particularly useful for Chongqing — home to vast car parts and IT factories — since it lies 1,500 km from China’s main seaports.

“The value of this rail link, known in China as the ‘new silk road’, is more than just symbolic,” the spokesman of the port of Duisburg, Julian Böcker, told AFP.

“It has found itself a position in the market and now operates up to three weekly services,” he said…. see more

source: thelocal