China’s first freight train to London has set a new precedent for delivering cargo in what is being hailed as the new Silk Road.
The train left Yiwu West Railway Station in Zhejiang province Sunday (January 1 2017) on a two-and-a-half week trip covering 8,000 miles that will end in the British capital, according to Xinhua, China's state-run news agency.
London is the 15th city in Europe added to freight service between the continent and China. The train is carrying 88 containers of small commodities such as clothing, fabric and bags, that will travel 12,000 kilometers through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France.
The service has the advantage of being cheaper than air freight and faster than sea and after crossing the English Channel it will arrive at the Barking Station’s Rail Freight Terminal in London, which is directly connected to the High Speed 1 rail line to the European mainland.
The different railway gauges mean that a single train cannot travel the whole route and the containers need to be reloaded at various points.
— People's Daily,China (@PDChina) 3 January 2017
Xinhua stated: “The freight train will strengthen inter-connectivity with western Europe, promote China-Britain trade, and better serve the Belt and Road Initiative.”
The train is part of Chinese President Xi Jinping's vision for “One Belt, One Road”, China's infrastructure initiative which was launched in 2013, which Xi hopes will improve China's economic ties with Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
The Chinese government is keen to boost its economy after slowing export and economic growth.