China rolls out plan for multimodal transport to boost connectivity
Published: Mar 15, 2023 01:21 AM
Lujiazui, a financial zone in Shanghai Photo: VCG

Lujiazui, a financial zone in Shanghai Photo: VCG

China's ministries have jointly rolled out a multimodal transport plan for the next three years, with specific targets to boost infrastructure and logistics.

The Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Natural Resources, General Administration of Customs and China Railway issued on Tuesday the Action Plan for Promoting the High-Quality Development of Rail-Water Combined Transport (2023-2025).

By 2025, the development of multimodal transport will be significantly improved, and the development pattern of bulk cargo and container-related medium and long-distance transportation will be supported by railways and waterways, according to the plan.

Specifically, the freight volume on the national railways will increase by about 10 percent and that of waterway freight by 12 percent compared with 2020, and the average annual growth rate of rail-water intermodal transportation will be more than 15 percent.

Major transportation ports will be the focus for future upgrading. For example, by 2025, the major ports along the Yangtze River will be fully covered by railways, and about 90 percent of major coastal ports nationwide will be connected with railways, the plan said.

Moreover, the volume of container-related rail-water intermodal transport at major ports across the country will reach 14 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) by 2025, with an average annual growth rate exceeding 15 percent.

In addition to the infrastructure upgrade, customs services will also be promoted. For example, the plan pledged to promote electronic or paperless documents for rail-water combined transport and online businesses to facilitate customs clearance.

Rail and water connectivity has been at the core of government efforts to boost overall connectivity. Such efforts were highlighted even amid the tough epidemic situation in 2022.

In 2022, China's major ports realized container rail-water intermodal transport volume of 8.75 million TEUs, a year-on-year increase of 16 percent, according to data from the Ministry of Transport. 

The seamless connection with ports via railways and waterways greatly improves transportation efficiency and reduces the impact of cargo transportation on social traffic, Xu Zuyuan, former vice minister of the Ministry of Transport, said at the 2nd Rail-Water Transport Development Forum held in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province on February 28, according to media reports. 

Multimodal transport not only gives full play to the advantages of railway efficiency, but also unleashes the advantages of large volume and low price of water transportation, Xu said.