The train took 18 days to arrive in Barking, East London from Yiwu, China after a mammoth journey which took it through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France.
The arrival of a freight train in East London is the start of a new era for the 2000 year old trading route. The Silk Road was an ancient network running through central Asia connecting to the Mediterranean which once bought a wealth of goods from China over to the UK.
The consignment would have taken nearly twice as long to arrive by sea, and contained a cargo of household items, clothes, fabrics, bags and suitcases. Weekly trains will be run initially to assess demand.
A direct rail link between Beijing and Western Europe enables manufacturers to explore new means to lower transport costs. The line may not provide a suitable alternative to all, but its arrival coincides with even greater emphasis being placed on Britain’s export business post Brexit.
China Railway already has freight services to European destinations including Madrid and Hamburg – and is now hoping to strengthen its links with Russia, Asia and Europe in the future.