The China Railway Corporation (CRC), a spinoff from the former Ministry of Railways (MOR), announced Thursday the launch of an express freight service to allow it to better compete in the logistics market.
Cargo can be delivered door-to-door through its express freight service starting June 15, the CRC said.
Clients can arrange to have cargo picked up at their door either online or by calling the company's customer service number, instead of going through the previously lengthy procedures such as submitting request plans and contacting different departments for loading and transport.
"The company will simplify its way of handling freight. Requests for freight transport will be handled promptly. Freight charges will be standardized," Cheng Xiandong, head of the transport bureau at the CRC, was quoted by the Xinhua News Agency as saying.
Available services include bulk transport of freight such as coal, oil and iron ore, as well as high-speed train delivery of small express packages, Chen said.
It is the first major reform announced by the company since it was incorporated in March as part of a cabinet restructuring plan to split the MOR into two entities.
"Extending its presence in the logistics market is an important step toward the CRC's full market operation," Zhao Jian, a transport professor at Beijing Jiaotong University (BJU), told the Global Times Thursday.
"As the country's economy slows down, the volume of railway freight transport also declines. Door-to-door freight service could make railways more competitive against other transport methods such as air freight," said Sun Zhang, a professor in the Urban Rail Transit and Railway Engineering Department at Shanghai Tongji
"The announcement shows the company is reacting quickly to the market. With more players joining the sector, the country's logistics industry is experiencing a reshuffle," Sun told the Global Times Thursday.
China has seen a logistics boom in recent years that has many investors eyeing the lucrative market.
The value of the logistics industry hit 17.7 trillion yuan ($2.9 trillion) in 2012, up 9.8 percent year-on-year.
In late May, China's leading e-commerce platform Alibaba Group Holding Ltd announced it would invest 100 billion yuan to build a logistics network that would cover the whole country and making 24-hour domestic deliveries possible.
"The CRC move may provide opportunities for express couriers who can partner with the CRC to provide express freight service for clients," said Zhao from BJU.
"The major challenges are whether the CRC can coordinate and mobilize local railway branch companies to allow the service to make efficient deliveries," Zhao said.