UK–China Rail Freight Service Kicks Off

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Rail freight service between the UK and China recently began, with the first freight shipment leaving from a rail terminal at DP World’s London Gateway port in Essex on April 10th.

Photo by DB Cargo

That shipment will cover around 12,000 kilometers over the 3 weeks following April 10th, to arrive in the eastern Chinese city of Yiwu. The route covers the Channel Tunnel, France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, then Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, and finally into China’s Zhejiang province.

So, what was in this first rail freight shipment from the UK to China? Pharmaceuticals, soft drinks, baby products, vitamins, and, of course, whisky.

The Group Chairman & CEO of DP World, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, commented: “London Gateway has joined the Silk Road.”

Photo by London Gateway

The Chairman of Yiwu Timex Industrial Investment Co (the service organizer), Xubin Feng, also commented: “This is the first export train and just the start of a regular direct service between the UK and China. 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.”

The Railway Gazette provides more: “The containers will be transhipped from 1 435 mm gauge to 1 520 mm gauge wagons and back at the breaks of gauge at the Poland/Belarus and Kazakhstan/China borders.

“The inaugural eastbound train follows on from a westbound demonstration service which had left Yiwu on January 1 and arrived at the London Eurohub terminal in Barking on January 18.

“The services have been organised by Yiwu Timex Industrial Investments Co and China Railway Container Transport Corp, as an extension of the established China-Duisburg route introduced in 2015. UK agent One Two Three Logistics handles bookings. DB Cargo is responsible for haulage on the UK and Aachen-Duisburg legs, with Switzerland-based InterRail Group organising haulage through Poland, Belarus, Russia, and Kazakhstan.”

The new service is part of China’s “One Belt, One Road” program, which is aimed at the creation of various complementary trade routes across Eurasia.

If you feel like you’ve seen mention of the Silk Road on CleanTechnica recently, that’s because of the potential role one Polish inventor sees for a hyperloop along this route.


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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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