LONDON: The first direct freight train between China and Britain arrived in London on Wednesday (Jan 18).
The train departed Yiwu West Station in China on Jan 1, 2017 and travelled 12,450 kilometres to Barking in the east of the British capital.
Representatives from the Chinese embassy in London, as well as officials from trade, logistics and investment sectors attended a ceremony to mark the freight train’s arrival.
Containers carrying goods such as household wares, fabrics and clothing travelled through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France before crossing the Channel Tunnel into the UK.
Containers carrying goods travelled through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France before crossing the Channel Tunnel into the UK.
The train route is said to cost half the price of air freight and is much faster than sea transport.
It is thought that this new trade route, which the UK has dubbed The New Silk Road, will open up improved Sino-British trade relations.
London is now the 15th European city to be directly linked to China via train, with the UK keen to be seen as a global trading nation as it heads towards separation from the European Union.
Carsten Pottharst, managing director of Switzerland-based InterRail Group, the train's operator, said he hopes 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, 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's the reaction of the UK market," he said. "But we've already received a lot of enquiries ... 50 or 60 in just two weeks, without any marketing."