The first direct freight train to connect China and Spain reached Madrid on Tuesday 9 December after a journey of around 13,000 kilometers that began 21 days previously in the Chinese city of Yiwu, on the east coast.
It is the longest rail route in the world and it is also the route that crosses the greatest number of countries, going through China, Kazhakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany and France before reaching Spain.
At 11.11am, the freight train unloaded its 30 remaining containers at Spanish rail infrastructure manager Adif’s logistics facilities in Madrid, having already dropped off 40 containers in Belarus.
Spain and China want to encourage trade relations through rail transport and the new direct railroad line is viewed by both governments as a major international link between Europe and Asia. Public Works Minister Ana Pastor described it as “the greatest proof of Spain’s trade exchange.”
The convoy, which pulled a gross weight of 1,400 tons, switched engines every 800 kilometers and had to deal with track-gauge changes in the border towns of Dostyk (Kazakhstan), Brest (Belarus) and Irún (Spain).