The first train which directly links Britain with China via a train route just arrived in the eastern Chinese city of Yiwu after a long, long trip of 12000 kilometres. The modern era ‘Silk Route’ is the second longest rail route in the world after China-Madrid link and took 20 days to arrive to Yiwu from London.
The Britain-China route comes as China’s latest effort to strengthen trades with western Europe along the modern ‘Silk Road’ route. The locomotive passed through France, Belgium Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan, before reaching its destination in China. The train was expected to reach within 18 days but the trip was extended by two days. Forgiven, since it was its first time, you know.
The train cargos were loaded with whisky, baby milk, pharmaceuticals and machineries which are to be delivered in Zhejiang – the major wholesale centre for small consumer goods. According to officials, the train route takes 30 days less than that taken via sea routes but the only bummer (for now) is that rail can yank only 88 containers whereas those massive sea cargos are capable of carrying 10,000 to 20,000 containers all at once!
The China Railway Corporation run train links 15 cities and is quite cheaper than air and faster than the sea shipping. Apart from the economic sense of the East wind, the train is more convenient and flexible because it can make multiple stops, allowing for the pick-up and offloading of cargo along the way. The rail medium is also not affected by adverse weather conditions so there could be a role for such long-haul rail links.