Is it really possible to connect Europe to Asia through an extensive rail network? After all, they were able to do it in ancient times with the famed Silk Road – a trade route that connected East to West, spanning China, India, Persia, Arabia and Europe.
At present, there’s the Trans-Siberian Railway which bridges Moscow to China, Mongolia and Pyongyang. But that’s not really enough. International transport experts are now talking about a new Silk Road, proposed to be called the One Belt, One Road Initiative for ASEAN. The starting fund for this project is said to be at $40 billion.
Young entrepreneurs like Jan-Paul Vegt and his Chinese business partner Yonggao Liu only have full support for the new Silk Road project. As owners of the transport firm G & D Europe based in Rotterdam, they are quite familiar with the difficulty of moving cargo to as far as China. Air freight and sea freight costs are becoming prohibitive and not being viable in the long term.
This summer of 2016, Vegt and Liu are embarking on the ambitious move of sending their first container by train to China. Eurasian rail transport forms an attractive transport option for the two. This is after exhausting all possibilities where cost and speed of delivery are important considerations.
Rail connections across continents are considered to be the last frontier for business and travel but is highly doable. With the seriousness they’re talking about it in China, there’s good chance this will be implemented within the next eight years, or five years even.
Once put on track, the establishment of the 21st century Silk Road is expected to trigger a massive inflow of investments related to construction, power and related industries.
Despite being involved with China in the South China Sea territorial dispute, The Philippines is still seen to benefit from the project by way of providing supplies and the employment of a huge number of workers. Beijing has itself assured that they will not allow geopolitical tensions to spoil the extreme economic promise of the New Silk Road.