A freight train from China’s eastern province of Zhejiang finished its maiden journey to Madrid and back, establishing the world’s longest rail link. China has dubbed the route the “21st-century Silk Road.”
After a 24-day journey, 64 freight containers bearing Spanish red wine, olive oil, and spring water arrived in Yiwu, China, after passing through France, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia, and Kazakhstan. In December, this cargo train travelled from Yiwu, which makes 60% of the world’s Christmas goods, to Madrid to deliver 1,400 tonnes (about 1,540 tons) of Christmas toys, decorations, and stationery.
China is establishing an ambitious network of overland links to the West, as part of a campaign to develop its poorer western regions, shorten trade routes, and deepen diplomatic ties in region. The 8,011 mile (about 13,000 km) route between Yiwu and Madrid, is part of a larger trans-Asia link that already connects Chinese cities Chongqing and Beijing with the German cities Duisburg and Hamburg. By sea, the freight time between Yiwu and Madrid takes 45 days.