London, Jan 19: The first direct freight train service between China and the UK, which may become a cost-efficient and time-saving way of transporting trade between both the countries, has arrived in London after traveling 12,000 km during an 18-day journey.
The so-called 'Silk Road' service is part of China's One Belt, One Road programme aimed at reviving the ancient trading routes to the West.
The train left the Chinese business hub of Yiwu, on the east coast, this month and travelled 7,500 miles (12,000 km), crossing seven countries, before arriving at a freight depot in Barking, east London, yesterday.
"The fast train route between Yiwu and London takes 30 days less than maritime transportation, while only costing a fifth of air transportation," said Fang Xudong, vice-general manager of Tianmeng Industrial Investment. The service delivered 34 containers of clothes and high street goods. China Railway already runs services between China and other European cities, including Madrid and Hamburg.
The service passed through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France before entering the UK via the Channel Tunnel. It is hoped the China Railway train will become a cost-efficient and time-saving way of transporting trade between China and the UK.
The trains will run weekly initially to assess demand. So far there have been 40 freight train routes connecting Asia to 14 European cities, which form part of a trade route launched in 2013.
London is the 15th European city to be added to the list of destinations for China's rail cargo. Last year, 1,702 freight trains made the voyage to Europe, more than double the 2015 figure.