CRRC Qiqihar Rolling Stock Co, China's biggest freight train manufacturer by production volume, received 7,900 freight car orders from home and abroad in the first quarter, gaining new growth momentum after two years of declining market conditions, its officials said on Monday.
"The deals indicate that the global commodity flows are back on track as many countries are raising the demand in either buying new rail vehicles or replacing the old models," said Chang Wenyu, deputy general manager of CRRC Qiqihar, a subsidiary of China Railway Rolling Stock Corp.
China Railway Corp, the country's railway operator, remained the manufacturer's biggest customer, ordering 7,500 cargo cars, with the remaining 400 sold to South Korea for cement tanker cars.
"Many of our overseas opportunities, such as the South Korean one, come from the development of the Belt and Road Initiative and from Africa's increasing demand for infrastructure projects, especially in fast-growing markets such as Kenya, Nigeria and Ethiopia," said Chang Wenyu, deputy general manager of CRRC Qiqihar.
In addition to rail cars sold to South Korea, CRRC Qiqihar has shipped the first 60 cargo cars to the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway in Kenya, with a second group of 500 on their way.
Partnering with China Road and Bridge Corp, the company took up the 10-year maintenance and repair service contract for the Mombasa-Nairobi railway. This project is CRRC Qiqihar's first service business in an overseas market.
Cui Shihai, deputy chief engineer of CRRC Qiqihar, said that the company is eyeing both domestic and international markets to promote the upgrading of its products.
The company just launched a new type of product, the piggyback wagon, to further compete with road transportation. Such freight cars can carry trucks to further cut transportation time and fuel cost, especially for long-distance journeys.
The company encountered its first financial loss in 2015, affected by the declining demand for global commodities including coal, oil, steel and construction materials between 2014 and 2016.
But 2017 appears to be a turnaround for the company. During the first quarter, sales revenue of CRRC Qiqihar reached 940 million yuan ($137 million), up 84.31 percent from a year earlier. The company maintained and repaired a total of 2,550 freight cars between January and March.
The company has exported more than 40,000 freight cars to more than 30 countries and regions, including the United States, Brazil, Australia and Kazakhstan.
It started production on 150 cargo cars for New Zealand's state-run KiwiRail this month.