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kuva 192KOUVOLA, Finland. November 12, 2017. A new weekly rail service between Northern Europe and China launched on November 10 as the first train with 41 containers of mainly forestry products left Kouvola for Xi'an in Central China.

With support from Finland's VR rail company, Russian Railways, China Railways and operated by Kazakhstan's logistics company KTZ Express, the transit time is expected to be as little as 12 days due to a single change of gauge in Kazakhstan and a route that is up to 2,000 kilometers shorter than other European lines.

"China is the European Union's second most important trade partner, which makes it critically important to develop connections between Europe and China," commented Finland's minister of Justice Antti Häkkänen. "Also in terms of Finland's imports and exports and international trade, a railway link between Europe and Asia is highly relevant."

The result of four years of planning by the city of Kouvola, which has the largest rail marshaling facilities in Finland, the new service is expected to develop refrigerated container traffic between Europe and China due to the shorter journey time.

"Railgate Finland, Kouvola - China Express will open up new business opportunities to entirely new product groups for which air transport has been too expensive, but maritime transport too slow," noted the head of Kouvola's development company Martti Husu. "In addition to China, the [new] transport corridor contributes to Japan, Australia and South Korea, and to imports to Europe and the Nordic Countries," he said.

Pictured left to right: Sergei Sinelnikov, Russian Federation Acting Trade Representative; Chen Li, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China; Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan Murat Nurtleuov; Finland Minister of Justice Antti Häkkänen; and Marita Toikka, Mayor of Kouvola City.

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