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Italy connects with China overland


FAR East Land Bridge (FELB) has launched a westbound rail link between Chengdu and Contship Italia’s rail hub in Milan, the first direct rail connection between China and Italy.

The service will initially operate fortnightly and later increase frequency to weekly.

A Contship spokesperson said the journey should take about 20 days, the first connection reaching Melzo Rail Hub on 12 February.

“In future, the service can also be used for cargo headed to France and Switzerland,” said the spokesperson.

“[Our Hannibal site] will offer FELB and its other clients Melzo-Frenkendorf and Melzo-Lyon rail links, creating an efficient corridor between China and South Europe.”

The Hannibal network is expected to process some 40 per cent of volumes on the first trains, forwarding them on to final destinations across Europe. It will cover more than 10,000km and eight countries, including Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus,

Poland, and Austria before reaching Italy.“Due to the difference between European, Chinese and Russian rail gauges, the train will undergo two technical transfers,” the spokesperson explained. “The first at the boundary between Alashankou and Dostyk and the second between Brest and Malaszewicze.”

Over the past 12 months, Contship has made a major push to transform its operations to link not only China and Europe, but also between European states.

Sales and business development manager for the Hannibal division Nicolo Marrali said Italy would be pivotal for an industry undergoing “major changes and challenges”, as it seeks to become a new gateway to central Europe.