China has re-opened the Silk Road. A Chinese freight train pulled in at Barking in east London on Wednesday.
Historically, the Silk Road is where trade first flourished between Europe and China. Silks, spices, Chinese porcelain, and gunpowder first entered European society via the road.
The train, called the East Wind, arrived in Barking at 1pm, after a 16 day journey. It was the first direct freight train to link China and Britain.
The train pulled 34 wagons and 68 containers. Household goods, clothes, socks, suitcases, purses, wallets, were transported 7,456 miles. The value of the goods was estimated to be worth around £4 million.
It is believed that the train journey is the longest in the world. After leaving Yiwu in China’s Zhejiang province the train travelled across Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France before arriving at the London Euro rail freight hub, near the River Thames.
Waiting for the train were dignitaries from Britain and China. The train was adorned with flags from both countries. The service is hoping to herald a new era in trade relations between the two Britain and China.
China to Become an Even Bigger Exporter
The wider world is following Britain’s exit from the EU with interest with Britain looking to build its export business.
The East Wind is an idea driven by Chinese President Xi Jinping. His “One Belt, One Road” strategy is to connect China with Europe and Africa via the old Silk Road trading routes. It will if successful increase China’s export business considerably.
As part of a wider strategy China has started to operate rail routes to 14 European cities including Hamburg and Madrid.
The train does not go back empty. Along the way it picks up European goods that go back to China. In a few weeks it will begin its return journey carrying British – made goods such as cars, machinery, and food items.
Vice general manager of Tianmeng Industrial Investment, Fang Xudong, said “The fast train route between Yiwu and London takes 30 days less than maritime transportation, while only costing a fifth of air transportation.”