Keen on further developing trade and investment connections with Europe, China has officially initiated a direct rail freight service to London.
According to the BBC, China Railway, which is set to carry cargo such as clothes, bags, and other products, links China to other European cities as well, such as Madrid and Hamburg.
Although the intercontinental journey of 12,000 miles takes the train about two weeks to complete, it is still faster than sea travel and does have the advantage of being cheaper than air freight.
Before the train reaches East London’s Barking Rail Freight Terminal, the service will have to pass through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany Belgium and France.
The different railway gauges used, however, prevent a single train to travel the whole route. Containers are therefore needed to be reloaded at different stops along the way. The last stop connects it to the High Speed 1 rail line, linking it directly to the European mainland.
Such initiatives to increase trade routes connecting China with Europe is largely seen as part of a greater move to boost infrastructure links among cities included in the former Silk Road routes which China began in 2013 under its multi-billion dollar “One Belt, One Road” plan.
The launching of the new rail service will have London joining China’s New Silk Route, making it the 15th European city to do so.