New Eurasian Land Bridge
The New Eurasian Land Bridge, also called the Second or New Eurasian Continental Bridge, is the southern branch of the Eurasian Land Bridge rail links running through the People's Republic of China. The Eurasian Land Bridge is the overland rail link between East Asia and Europe.
Due to a difference in the standard gauge used in China and the Russian gauge used in the former Soviet Union containers must be physically transferred from Chinese to Kazakh railway cars at Dostyk on the Chinese-Kazakh border and again at the Belarus-Poland border where the standard gauge used in western Europe begins. This is done with truck-mounted cranes. Chinese media often states that the New Eurasian Land/Continental Bridge extends from Lianyungang to Rotterdam, a distance of 11,870 kilometres (7,380 mi). The exact route used to connect the two cities is not always specified in Chinese media reports, but appears to usually refer to the route which passes through Kazakhstan.
All rail freight from China across the Eurasian Land Bridge must pass north of the Caspian Sea through Russia at some point. A proposed alternative would pass through Turkey and Bulgaria, but any route south of the Caspian Sea must pass through Iran.
As of 2013 express freight trains were being used by manufacturers such as Hewlett-Packard to ship products from factories in the interior of China though Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, and Poland to Europe. The Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia reduces inspections, delays and theft. Shipment from a factory in a city in central or western China such as Chongqing or Chengdu to distribution centers in Europe takes about 3 weeks; less than the 5 weeks taken by ship transport but 25% more expensive. Air freight, including processing, takes about a week, but costs 7 times as much as rail and adds 30 times more carbon to the atmosphere. Freight containers are sealed and heavily guarded. Armed guards accompany the trains. Freight traffic is projected by Kazakhstan to increase by several orders of magnitude by 2020, from thousands to millions of freight containers shipped annually.
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