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Freight train from China arrives: Vucic welcomed it and announced major infrastructure investments

The train cut a red ribbon at the New Belgrade railway station while sounding a "long horn", thus marking the official establishment of the first rail freight line between the two countries

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A China Railway Express freight train carrying equipment for the construction of a high-speed railroad in Serbia arrived today from China to Belgrade, where it was greeted by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Chinese Deputy Commerce Minister Qian Keming.

The train cut a red ribbon at the New Belgrade railway station while sounding a "long horn", thus marking the official establishment of the first rail freight line between the two countries.

The red ribbon had the following written on it in Serbian and Chinese: "Arriving in Serbia for the first time," while the side of the train had this message "Chinese Railways salute the Serbian people." Vucic and Qian shook hands with the train driver and congratulated him on the newly established line.

"This is an important day for us. For 40 years, no one is using rail for passenger transport, and even less so for cargo. I am grateful to our Chinese partners for connecting us with Europe," said Vucic.

predsednik Srbije Aleksandar Vučić

Printscreen: YouTube/Tanjug

According to Vucic, the New Belgrade station will look differently in two years's time.

"When the railroad to Novi Sad is built in two years, no one will travel between these two cities by car anymore, because the trip will only take 30 minutes by train," said Vucic.

He emphasized that it is a high speed railroad with multiple tracks.

"Eight years ago, the train on the route to Novi Sad was slower than it had been a hundred years ago. One of my first ideas is to build a network with new communications all over Serbia. And in that way enter among the developed countries. We wouldn't be able to do most of this work without our Chinese friends. Chinese companies build in all parts of our country. Today the first direct train arrived from China," said Vucic.

He referred to the reconstruction of a part of the railway to Stara Pazova. And according to his estimates, the railway to Subotica will be completed in three years.

More than 500 tons of high-speed line construction equipment arrived in Serbia

The train which arrived today in Belgrade is the first ever direct train from China to Serbia and it brought more than 500 tons of high-speed rail construction equipment to our country. The train consists of 28 railcars with containers.

It departed on September 24 from the Chinese city of Jinan, in the province of Shangdong, and traveled about 10,500 kilometers through China, Mongolia, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Hungary and Serbia. The composition contains equipment to be used by Chinese companies building the high-speed railroad from Belgrade to Budapest.

This is equipment for contact network systems, such as: transformers, cables, integrated automation systems for substations, remote control systems for the contact network, power systems for the power supply of the contact network and other high-speed line equipment.

The aforementioned traction substation and contact network equipment is an important part of the "energy subsystem" in the Interoperability Technical Specifications. The contact network materials, which came from China to Serbia, meet all European standards and possess all the necessary certificates for the construction of high-speed rail.

Rail transport from China to Serbia ensures the supply of equipment for the Serbia-Hungary high-speed rail project and will accelerate the implementation of works. The modernization of the Belgrade Center-Stara Pazova railway, 34.5 kilometers long, is a part of a project to build a high-speed line that will allow trains to travel at up to 200 kilometers per hour between Belgrade and Budapest.

The value of the contract for the modernization and construction of the high-speed line on the Belgrade Center-Stara Pazova section is  worth $350 million.

The contractor is a consortium of China Railway International and China Communications Construction Company, with a 36-month deadline starting June 5, 2018.

During the 1990s a few railcars would arrive from China poradically via Turkey, and they were a part of trains whose final destination was some other country of Central Europe, such as Hungary, Poland and Austria.

Rail traffic is one of the central modes of transportation for China's global Belt and Road Initiative, while high-speed rail line from Belgrade to Budapest is an integral part of the project.

The frequency of the new line established today will depend on the interest of Chinese companies operating in the Serbian market, as well as of Serbian companies cooperating with China, the Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure announced earlier.

The opening of the rail freight line between China and Serbia creates opportunities for all businesspeople from Serbia and the region to export their goods to the Chinese market, as well as to import the necessary goods from China, since rail transport is much more cost-effective than air and sea transport.

The Belt and Road Initiative was launched in 2013 and aims to create a new Silk Road through a series of infrastructure projects - building transport and energy infrastructure for the export of goods, as well as ports and industrial parks.

(Telegraf Biznis/Tanjug)

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