Border port records huge jump in freight trains crossing Mongolia

The number of freight trains crossing Mongolia has risen over 50 percent year-on-year, according to Chinese news outlets.


Officials working at the border port of Erenhot between Mongolia and China have told Xinhua that 2158 freight trains have crossed in the last 11 months, which is a 53.4 percent increase compared to last year.


A train passing through Erenhot Port back in April. (Credit: China Railway)
A train passing through the port back in April. (Credit: China Railway)

The trains are delivering freight to and from Europe.


China Railway Hohhot Group also said that of these trains, 1023 were inbound to China and 1135 were outbound to Europe.


According to Xinhua, the port has modified part of its bulk cargo space into a train container reloading area, which has improved capacity by 30 percent. The space was previously used to load logs and iron ore.


42 train routes between China and Europe converge at the Zamiin-Uud to Erenhot crossing, making it the largest land port between China and Mongolia.


There has been a huge growth in freight train crossings of Mongolia in the last six years following a mutual agreement in 2016 between Beijing, Ulaanbaatar and Moscow to improve connections between China and Russia.


In 2014, only ten China-Europe trains crossed Mongolia compared to 900 in 2018 and over 2100 in 2020.


According to DSV, a global transport company, rail freight services between China and Europe are faster (but more expensive) than seaborne shipping and cheaper (but slower) than airborne options.


"The rail journey from China to Europe, from terminal to terminal, and depending on the route, takes between 15 and 18 days," DSV says. "That is roughly half the time it takes to move containers by ship."


The China-Europe freight rail route across Mongolia competes with the southern line across Kazakhstan and the eastern line that crosses the China-Russia border at Zabaikalsk.


This article has been updated.

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