Silk Road revived as first freight train from China arrives in London

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The first freight train service from China to the UK has arrived.

Some 34 containers packed with mainly clothes and other high street goods completed the 7,456-mile (11,999km) journey in east London.

The 18-day trip saw the boxes transported from the city of Yiwu in eastern China to DB Cargo's rail freight terminal in Barking.

They passed through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France before entering the UK via the Channel Tunnel.

A number of different locomotives and wagons were used as the railways of the former Soviet Union states have a larger rail gauge than the other countries involved.

The service is cheaper than air freight and faster than sending goods by sea.

Weekly trains will initially be run to assess demand.

China Railway already has freight services to a number of European destinations, including Hamburg and Madrid.

They are part of China's One Belt, One Road programme of reviving the ancient Silk Road trading routes to the West, initially created more than 2,000 years ago.

Mike White, group operations director of Brunel Project Cargo, which is involved in the London service, told Railway Gazette: "The new service has a very quick transit time."

He added: "We believe this is going to change the way a lot of forwarders and shippers view their imports and exports for China."