UK

First rail freight service to China departs UK

Rail freight train Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption The freight train left its terminal in Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, for Zhejiang province, eastern China

The first rail freight service from the UK to China has departed on its 17-day, 7,500-mile journey.

British goods including soft drinks, vitamins and baby products are in the 30 containers carried by the train, which will be a regular service.

The DP World locomotive left its terminal in Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, for Zhejiang province, eastern China.

After going through the Channel Tunnel, the train will pass through seven other countries before arriving on 27 April.

They are France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan.

The operators say it is cheaper to send goods by train than by air and faster than by sea.

'Significant occasion'

The service is part of China's "one belt, one road" programme aimed at reviving the ancient Silk Road trading routes with the West, dating back more than 2,000 years.

The first rail freight service in the opposite direction, from China to the UK, arrived three months ago.

UK international trade minister Greg Hands said the rail link "shows the huge global demand for quality UK goods".

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption British goods including vitamins and baby products are in the 30 containers carried by the train

Xubin Feng, chairman of Yiwu Timex Industrial Investment Co, which is organising the service, said restoring the Silk Road route was "an important and exciting initiative".

"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," he said.

DP World chief executive Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem said it was a "significant trade occasion".

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