China launches first train service to travel all the way to Britain carrying socks to east London

The cargo will cover 7,456 miles and take 18 days to get to London

Tom Embury-Dennis
Wednesday 04 January 2017 22:18 GMT
The first China-Europe train in 2014, which headed for Madrid
The first China-Europe train in 2014, which headed for Madrid

China has launched its first ever train service to travel all the way to Britain.

The locomotive will cover 7,456 miles and pass through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France before reaching Barking, east London.

Filled with £4m worth of goods, including socks, clothes, bags and suitcases, the freight train departed on 1 January, and will take 18 days to complete its journey, reports the Xinhua news agency.

The UK is the eighth country to be added to the China-Europe line, and London the 12th European city.

The development is part of President Xi Jinping’s “One Belt, One Road” strategy to connect Asia with Europe and Africa on old Silk Road trading routes.

According to the China Railway Corporation, the service will improve China-Britain trade ties and strengthen the rising superpower’s links to western Europe.

China’s spending spree slowing economy

Because of the differing railway tracks involved in the journey, a single train cannot travel the entire route, meaning the containers need to be reloaded at various points.

The initiative came the same day that China Central Television, the country’s biggest and most important TV network, launched a new global platform.

The state broadcaster aims to help rebrand China overseas, with Mr Xi urging the network to “tell China's story well… and showcase China's role as a builder of world peace”.

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