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Freight train arrives Chinese city to London

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About 34 containers packed with clothing, bags and millions of pairs of socks completed the 7,456-mile journey to east London on January 18th.

During the 18-day trip, the containers were transported from the city of Yiwu in eastern China to the rail freight terminal in Barking. A fanfare of costumed dancers, drummers and musicians posing as Chinese dragons welcomed the first freight service, along with members of the Chinese embassy, and trade representatives.

The freight train had passed through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France before entering the UK via the Channel Tunnel.

It was necessary to use number of different locomotives and wagons, were as the former Soviet Union states have a larger railway gauge than the other countries. The service is cheaper than air freight and faster than shipping cargo by sea.

Weekly trains will initially be run as a pilot project to assess demand.

China Railway already has freight services to some of European destinations, including Hamburg and Madrid.