The first freight train travelling all the way from China to London has set off – on a journey that will cover a staggering 7,456 miles and pass through nine countries.
The locomotive, stuffed with £4million worth of goods including socks and suitcases, departed from Yiwu West railway station in Zhejiang Province, China on Sunday.
Its epic journey will come to an end in Barking, east London, having been trundling along for 18 days.
It is part of a drive to improve trade links with Europe, with the route cheaper than air freight and faster than transporting goods by sea.
Its route will snake through China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium, France and finally Britain.
The China Railway Corporation train left on its 18 day journey on Sunday from Yiwu West railway station
The train, carrying £4million worth of goods, will travel across nine countries on its journey to east London
The service is being run by the China Railway Corporation, and Britain is the eighth country to be added to its list of destinations, with London its 15th city.
Madrid and Hamburg are among the European cities that the corporation transports goods to.
The new route is set to boost trade ties between the UK and China with goods such as clothing and bags delivered along the re-established Silk Road, connecting Europe and Asia, according to The Indian Express, which cited a report from Xinhua news agency.
The focus on strengthening trade by expanding China’s railway infrastructure and network is part of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ strategy, announced in late 2013.
It departed from Yiwu (pictured) railway station in Zhejiang Province, China, and will arrive in Barking, London, having been trundling along for 18 days
The focus on strengthening trade by expanding China’s railway infrastructure and network is part of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ strategy, announced in late 2013
The epic route is not the only lengthy railway journey between Europe and Asia that has been unveiled recently.
A new Japanese plan envisages extending the Trans-Siberian railway, potentially allowing passengers to travel all the way from London to Tokyo by train – a distance of 6,000 miles.
In October 2016, MailOnline reported that the new link would bypass Vladivostok, currently the final stop on the world famous route, with a four-mile bridge or tunnel linking the city of Khabarovsk to the Russian Pacific island of Sakhalin.
From here the new rail connection would cross to the northerly Japanese island of Hokkaido, requiring a 26-mile tunnel.
Reports in the Japanese and Russian media say the Tokyo government, along with potential investors, is actively considering the development.
The first freight train from China to London set off on Sunday on a journey that will cover a staggering 7,456 miles