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Direct China-Britain freight train likely to reshape trade, says logistics chief

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-10-13 10:17

LONDON — The direct China-Britain freight train is likely to shake up traditional trade patterns as speed and reliability are the key in modern supply, said Nichola Silveira, general manager of Logistics of DP World London Gateway.

The first China-bound freight train carrying British products left DP World London Gateway terminal on April 10 and arrived at eastern China's Yiwu city known as China's "world supermarket" after a 19-day journey.

"This was the pilot run and now we are working to establish a weekly service that will touch many provinces in China... and come directly into the UK," said Silveira, whose company boasts the largest rail terminal in Britain, told Xinhua in an interview at London Gateway logistics park, some 48 kilometers east of central London.

The direct train service, a significant part of the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, is reshaping the supply chain between Britain and China as train is more reliable and cheaper than air freight and much faster than sending goods by sea, said Silveira.

The initiative is aimed at building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road by promoting trade, financial integration, and infrastructure inter-connectivity and people-to-people exchanges between Asia, Europe and Africa.

"These are the very critical points for supply chain today, speed and reliability. And the Belt and Road Initiative will be very critical ensuring that the supply chain moves in the right direction," she said.

The logistics chief noted that the direct train service has drawn much interest from a range of clients, especially car manufactures, pharmaceutical companies and toy manufacturers.

"This train's transit time is only 18-19 days and can bring cargo right in time from source to consumption for Black Fridays or for any of the promotional activities," said Silveira.

Technical problems could be a concern as railway gauges vary between the connecting countries and freight need to swap trains along the 12000-km journey way.

"Yes there will be technical issues and challenges but we as a company are looking at the Belt and Road Initiative and we will support and make sure we work through these challenges as the train moves on weekly service between China and the UK," said Silveira.

London is the 15th city in Europe to join in the China-Europe freight train services. The first Chinese freight train arrived in London in January.

China now has express freight services to 28 European cities. More than 5,000 trips are expected to be made by 2020, according to the China Railway Corporation.

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