The first freight train to link China directly with the UK arrived in Yiwu eastern China, on Saturday 30 April, after covering over 12,000-kilometres (7,500 miles), making it the second-longest train route in the world.
China launched the “One Belt, One Road” strategy in 2013, and has since poured millions into constructing vast infrastructure links.
The freight train — loaded with whisky, baby milk, pharmaceuticals and machinery — departed London on April 10 and passed through France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan during its 20-day trip.
London is the 15th city to be linked to a new freight network offered by the state-run China Railway Corporation, which says its services are cheaper than air transport and quicker than shipping.
The journey should be 30 days faster than moving the freight by ship, the provincial government had said, but this pilot run took two days longer than the expected 18 days.
And the train, named the East Wind, has much less freight carrying capacity than a ship. The train can carry 88 shipping containers, according to the Yiwu government, compared with the 10,000 to 20,000 containers cargo ships can carry.
China already has a regular direct freight train service to Germany;
one route links the Chinese megacity of Chongqing to Duisburg, a steel-making town and the other route links Beijing, the Chinese capital, to Hamburg, Germany’s second-largest city.