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First ‘Silk Road’ freight train from China arrives in London

First ‘Silk Road’ freight train from China arrives in London

China-to-Britain train travelled through nine countries and two continents, covered 7,500-mile distance in 18-day long journey.

The first direct train from China carrying clothes, suitcases and other goods arrived in London, raising hopes the new route could strengthen trade and other ties between the two countries. The historic train travelled through nine countries and two continents and covered about 7,500-mile distance to reach United Kingdom.

The train, pulling 44 containers, departed from Yiwu West in eastern China on 1st January, taking 18 days to make the 7,500 miles (12,000km) journey and arriving in Barking, London on 18th January.

The first China-to-Britain freight train marked a milestone by connecting different countries to establish alternate commercial links across Europe and Asia.

The freight train started its journey earlier this month from Yiwu, which is a wholesale market town in province Zhejiang, eastern Chinese. This special train is inaugurated a direct freight train service between the two countries.

Before reaching its destination train had travelled through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France, finally crossing under the English Channel into Britain.

The pioneer train brought in a cargo of small merchandises including household items, bags, suitcases, clothes and fabrics. The consignment would have approximately taken nearly double as long to reach Britain by sea.

The Yiwu-London direct linked train service makes London the 15th European city to have a rail link with China after the 2013 unveiling of the “One Belt, One Road” initiative by Chinese premier Xi Jinping.

Carsten Pottharst, managing director of Switzerland-based InterRail Group, the train’s operator hopes that there would be more such runs between China and Britain.

“This moment was important to show that we can run the train in less than 18 days to the UK,” he said. “It depends also on how much cargo we can get from the UK to China – if we can manage to get more trains eastbound, and then there could be more”.

Oscar Lin, General Manager at OTT Logistics, the local UK booking office for the train, said there had been good interest in the service.

“This is the first train for a test – we want to know what is the reaction of the UK market is,” he said. “But we’ve already received a lot of enquiries, 50 or 60 in just two weeks, without any marketing”.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said the relationship with China remains “golden” as she seeks to bring in billions of dollars in Chinese investment as Britain prepares to leave the European Union.

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