The first freight train to ever travel from China to the UK has arrived at its final destination in Barking.
It departed from Yiwu, in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang, travelling 12,000 kilometres across seven countries in 18 days.
Socks, cloths, bags and household goods were transported on the train through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France, before crossing the Channel into Britain.
It would have taken twice as long for the cargo to reach its destination if it had been transported by sea, while air freight would have been twice as expensive.
London is the 15th European city to be added to the map of destinations having a direct rail link with China, as part of the "One Belt, One Road" strategy by Chinese president Xi Jinping. The train was operated by Swiss company InterRail Group on behalf of China Railway subsidiary CRIMT.
The arrival at DB Cargo’s London Eurohub in Barking on Wednesday (18 January), which received national and international media coverage, was attended by more than 100 people, including official from the Chinese embassy and Yiwu’s local government.
Councillor Darren Rodwell, leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, greeted the train as “a sign that Barking and Dagenham is increasingly at the epicentre of the capital’s eastward shift”.
“The challenge now is for British business to fill the trains going back,” he added.
The council said it expected the new service to provide a fillip to trade between China and the UK, as well as boosting economic development in the borough.
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