The first freight train from China to London set off on new year’s day on an epic journey which will cover a staggering 7,456 miles, before returning to Yiwu afterwards. The return journey from London Barking Railway Station to Yiwu Railway Station takes 21 days.
According to American Journal of Transportation, the freight train is operated by Yiwu Timex Industrial Investment Co Ltd and has been running services to Madrid (Spain) via Duisburg (Germany) for over a year.
Brunel Project Cargo which is the UK partner of the new China rail service said that it believes this is going to change the way a lot of forwarders and shippers view their imports and exports for China – particularly with air freight.
Brunel operations chief Mike White said, “instead of 30 days from China, there is now a rail option of just 14 days. This is an excellent chance to provide your clients with a new China-UK railway transport solution.”
Other benefits include convenient customs clearance with both declarations and inspections completed together leading to quicker release of the cargo. Customs clearance services are also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The rail-freight service to Britain is part of President Xi Jinping’s efforts to strengthen trade ties with Europe. With the freight train launch on 1 Jan, London became the 15th European city with direct trains from China following the unveiling of Xi’s modern-day Silk Road initiative of 2013.
The Belt-and-Road initiative put transport links at the center of efforts to create a modern Silk Road and boost commercial ties to markets across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
Commenting on the launch of the freight train between Zhejiang and London, Singaporean’s First Party’s secretary-general Tan Jee Say said that prominent ports – including the port of Singapore – are being disintermediated by these trains from China.
He believes that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong tying the economic destiny of Singapore to countries like USA and Japan will be faced with fierce competition from the One Belt One Road initiative.
“If Singapore continues as a frog, we will be boiled alive by One Belt One Road,” he added.