First freight train to China departs UK

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Apr 11, 2017: The first ever UK to China export train departed on April 10, loaded with containers full of British goods.

The train will make the 7,500 mile, three-week-long journey, departing from DP World London Gateway’s state-of-the-art rail terminal in South Essex, bound for Yiwu in the Zhe Jiang province in eastern China. Products on board include soft drinks, vitamins, pharmaceuticals and baby products.

This inaugural export train bound for China departed just under three months after the first ever import train from China arrived in the UK.

The service is part of China's One Belt, One Road programme - reviving the ancient Silk Road trading routes to the West.

After passing through the channel tunnel into France and Belgium, the DB Cargo locomotive will call in Duisburg, Germany before InterRail pull the cargo through Poland, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan before the train crosses to Yiwu, China.

Container operator OneTwoThree Logistics is overseeing the transportation and booking of cargo for the UK/China rail freight trains, in conjunction with Yiwu Timex Industrial Investment Co., which is running the service with China Railway Container.

This first consignment of cargo to go by rail – which is cheaper and less restrictive than air freight and faster than sea freight – comes less than two weeks after the triggering of Article 50 and the start of the formal process of leaving the European Union, which has placed an emphasis on the UK to secure trade deals with countries all over the world.

Greg Hands, Minister of State in the Department for International Trade, said, “This new rail link with China is another boost for Global Britain, following the ancient Silk Road trade route to carry British products around the world.

“It shows the huge global demand for quality UK goods and is a great step for DP World’s £1.5 billion London Gateway Port as it also welcomes its first regular container ships from Asia.”

Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group chairman and CEO, DP World, said, “We look forward to enabling and facilitating more trade between the UK, China and the whole world.”

Xubin Feng, chairman, Yiwu Timex Industrial Investment Co., said, “Restoring the ancient Silk Road as a means by which China, North Europe and now the UK can exchange goods is an important and exciting initiative.”

“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.”

Photo: L to R: Xubin Feng, chairman of Yiwu Timex Industrial Investment Co.; Ma Hui, Minister, Embassy of People's Republic of China; Liming Liang, Vice Governor of the Zhejiang Province; DP World Group chairman and CEO, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem and Rupert Soames, the UK prime minister's Business Ambassador for Infrastructure and Transport.

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