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First export train from UK to China departs

By Angus McNeice in London | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-04-11 00:21

The first-ever export train from the United Kingdom to China departed from London on Monday morning, carrying British goods on a 12,000 kilometer journey to Yiwu, in East China's Zhejiang province.

First export train from UK to China departs

The first UK to China export train, laden with containers of British goods, is seen during the official ceremony to mark its departure from the DP World London Gateway, Stanford-le-Hope, Britain April 10, 2017. [Photo by  Angus McNeice/chinadaily.com.cn]

Containers full of soft drinks, vitamins, pharmaceuticals, and baby products had been loaded onto the train just east of the capital, at the London Gateway terminal in Essex that is operated by DP World, a trade services companywith headquarters in Dubai.

The journey the train has begun is the return leg of the brand new Yiwu-London route. It follows the arrival of the first freight train from China to the UK in January, which was packed with clothing and other small commodities.

Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, CEO of DP World, said: "When we started this project, we knew it was a game-changer in the supply chain. We had cargo by air and by sea and now we have it by rail across continents."

He added that the London-Yiwu line was a key addition to President Xi Jinping's signature Belt and Road Initiative, which focuses on infrastructure development.

"DP world has been an active supporter of Belt and Road, and now London Gateway is on the Silk Road route," he said.

The train will take 18 days to reach Yiwu. It will passthrough seven countries in between the UK and China, and will need to accommodate three changes in the width of track and rolling stock.

First export train from UK to China departs

The first UK to China export train, laden with containers of British goods, is seen during the official ceremony to mark its departure from the DP World London Gateway, Stanford-le-Hope, Britain April 10, 2017. [Photo by Angus McNeice/chinadaily.com.cn] 

After passing through the Channel Tunnel into France, the locomotive will traverse Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan before crossing into China.

Container operator OneTwoThree Logistics is overseeing the transportation and booking of the cargo train, in conjunction with Yiwu Timex Industrial Investments Co, which is running the service with China Railway Container.

Greg Hands, British minister of state in the Department for International Trade, said the new line showsthe global demand for UK goods.

"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," he said.

The train is returning to Yiwu three months after arriving in the UK. Robert Soames, business ambassador to the British prime minister in the construction and infrastructure sector, said he expects a weekly or daily service will be established within the next decade.

"The train is a fantastic alternative to air and sea freight, as air is more expensive and sea takes longer," Soames said, "It's significant not just for UK-China trade but for global trade."

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