Chinese freight train arrives in UK

The first freight train service from China to the UK arrives at DB Cargo's rail freight terminal in Barking

The first freight train to connect China and the United Kingdom has completed its 12,000 km journey from Yiwu to Barking.

The 18-day trip saw 34 containers pass through seven countries including Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France before entering the United Kingdom via the Channel Tunnel.

However, the rail firms say the service is still cheaper than air freight and faster than sending goods by sea.

China Railway already runs services between China and other European cities, including Madrid and Hamburg.

In Yiwu, in eastern China, a bright orange locomotive pulling 44 containers laden with suitcases, clothes and an assortment of household goods set off on a 7,500-mile (12,000km) journey to western Europe. The expansion is part of Chinese president Xi Jinping's "One Belt, One Road" plan to improve the country's trade links and revive the ancient Silk Road route.

Arriving earlier today at DB Cargo's Eurohub terminal, the milestone adds the United Kingdom to the list of destinations now served by the new China-Europe rail freight corridor.

Carsten Pottharst, managing director of Switzerland-based InterRail Group, the train's operator, said he hoped there would be more such runs between China and Britain. "We believe this is going to change the way a lot of forwarders and shippers view their imports and exports for China".

The China Railway Express train left Yiwu on January 1.

"It is hoped this will further improve trade ties between China and the United Kingdom", said Richard Doubtfire, seafreight director at Brunel Shipping & Liner Services, one of two British companies handling logistics for the journey.

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