A fast cargo ship service on the Yangtze River waterway started on Wednesday to transport 350 standard containers from Yibin Port in southwestern Sichuan Province to Shanghai.

The ship will arrive at a port in Shanghai in 12 days, compared with about 20 days previously needed, by optimising shipping schedules, and the transport cost will be significantly reduced, according to the Sichuan Yibin Port Group.

Upon arrival in the Shanghai port, the containers will be handled onto sea-going ships within 72 hours. The container loading and unloading time will also be shortened to improve the customs clearance efficiency for foreign trade goods.

The cargo ship route also links a southbound railway route from Sichuan to south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, which connects waterway transportation in Yangtze River Economic Belt with freight routes along the Belt and Road.

Yibin Port is an important port on the Yangtze River, and a logistics hub for western China.

The Yangtze River Economic Belt consists of nine provinces and two municipalities that cover roughly one-fifth of China. It has a population of 600 million and generates more than 40 percent of the country’s GDP.