17 days, 12,000 kms, 7 countries – Britain's first freight train carrying whisky, vitamins to leave for China today
Part of China's One Belt, One Road programme, the train service is a means of reviving the early Silk Road trading routes with the West.
Stanford-Le-Hope: As the United Kingdom seeks to furbish its global trading credentials ahead of formally leaving the European Union, Britain will on Monday flag off its first freight train to China.
The 30-coach carrier, carrying whiskey, vitamins, baby products and other goods, will depart for the 7,500-mile journey from eastern England to eastern China and will take three weeks, around half the time needed for the equivalent journey by boat.
The first freight train from China arrived in Britain in January.
The train will leave a depot at Stanford-Le-Hope in Essex for Barking in east London, before passing through the Channel Tunnel into France and on to Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia, and Kazakhstan. The train will arrive at its destination on April 27.
Britain is seeking to enhance its trade links with the rest of the world as it prepares to leave the EU in two years` time.
"This new rail link with China is another boost for global Britain, following the ancient Silk Road trade route to carry British products around the world," said Greg Hands, a British trade minister.
Run by Yiwu Timex Industrial Investment, the Yiwu-London freight service makes London the 15th European city to have a direct rail link with China after the 2013 unveiling of the "One Belt, One Road" initiative by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
"This is the first export train and just the start of a regular direct service between the UK and China," Xubin Feng, the chairman of Yiwu Timex Industrial Investment Co, said.
"We have great faith in the UK as an export nation and rail provides an excellent alternative for moving large volumes of goods over long distances faster."
(With Agency inputs)