The Chinese section of a transcontinental expressway project set to link western China with Western Europe has opened to traffic.
A key part of the project, a 10-km section of road in the border city of Horgos in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, which connects a quarantine area with the Lianyungang-Horgos expressway, came into use on Saturday, marking the across-the-board opening of the expressway in China.
The project, with a total length of 8,445 km, links Lianyungang city in east China's Jiangsu Province to St. Petersburg in Russia. China and Kazakhstan in 2006 jointly proposed building a Western Europe-Western China transport corridor. Construction of the expressway began in 2008.
Li Zhinong, deputy head of the regional transport department, said the opening of the Horgos section of the expressway will help further open up China to the West and facilitate the economic and social development of countries and regions along the Belt and Road.
Wang Haijiang, deputy mayor of Horgos, said the annual freight volume exported through the Horgos port will increase to 3.5 million tonnes with the opening of the section.
He said the quarantine area on the expressway is now under construction. Cargo sent from Lianyungang to Europe will have its journey shortened from 45 days to 10 days when road transport replaces sea freight.
According to the World Bank, the expressway project will help increase the road freight volume between China and Western Europe by 2.5 times. New companies and supporting facilities along the roads will benefit local people by offering more jobs.
Transport company Huaxin Co., Ltd. in Horgos has been sending Chinese products for daily use and machinery to Kazakhstan by truck.
"The old roads are in poor condition. The 370-km trip from Horgos to Almaty usually takes a whole day," company official Wang Yong said, stressing that the new expressway would help the company save time and lower costs.