Every week, three trains carry goods between Chongqing and the Beibu Gulf in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, where the cargo is loaded onto ships bound for Singapore.
The new Chongqing-Guangxi-Singapore route was opened in September to reduce logistics costs and promote trade with Southeast Asian countries under the Belt and Road Initiative, according to senior officials.
Shipments take two days to go from Chongqing to the Port of Qinzhou in southern Guangxi, and another six days to reach Singapore.
Compared with the traditional route via the Yangtze River through Shanghai, the new route, called the Southern Passageway, saves about 20 days, helping enhance links between inland provinces and Southeast Asian nations.
The new route also helps relieve heavy traffic on the Yangtze. Shipping volume through the locks at Three Gorges Dam was not expected to reach full capacity－100 million metric tons a year－until 2030. However, that limit was reached in 2011, resulting in long wait times.
Under Guangxi’s plan to accelerate transport to Singapore, an integrated system will be in operation by 2020, focusing on the rail-to-sea route. Throughput at Beibu Gulf will reach 5 million containers, making the port an international shipping center.
“More business is expected to be attracted to Guangxi, especially to Beibu Gulf, as the Southern Passageway proceeds,” said Liu Hongwu, director of the Guangxi Development and Reform Commission and a deputy to the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature. “That will also help Guangxi to further integrate with the Belt and Road Initiative.”
Last year, the State Council approved a plan to reduce container fares by 20 percent, Liu said. He said Hunan, Sichuan and Guangdong provinces, as well as Vietnam and Cambodia, will be invited to join in building the Southern Passageway.
In 2015, Chongqing was chosen as the operational center of the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity, the third government-to-government project. Logistics is one of the major focal points of the project.
Xu Ren’an, head of the Chongqing Transport Commission and an NPC deputy, said the Southern Passageway will help promote the export-oriented economy of Chongqing, Guangxi and Guizhou and Gansu provinces.
Chongqing has announced plans to build 1,000 kilometers of highways by 2020 to better connect with neighboring provinces.
“We plan to speed up the construction of the regional comprehensive transport network and enhance the overall export volume of the western region,” Xu said.