China’s New Silk Route: Cheaper Than Air Freight, Faster Than Sea Freight


Three months after the first freight train from China arrived in Barking, East London, the first ever export train from the UK to China departed on 10th April from Stanford-le-Hope in Essex. Soft drinks, vitamins, pharmaceuticals, baby products and whisky are among the British products being transported in the 30 containers of the freight train.

The 12000 km journey will see the train travelling through the Channel Tunnel and seven other countries before arriving on 27th April, in the city of Yiwu in Zhejiang province, China. The countries include France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan. Operators say the journey is cheaper than air freight and faster than sea freight.

The route is part of China’s “one belt, one road” program aimed at reviving the ancient Silk Road trading routes between the East and the West. It is a contemporary overland and maritime trade network designed to promote economic corporation between China and Europe, Middle East and Central Asia.

Xubin Feng, chairman of Yiwu Timex Industrial Investment Co, which is organizing the service, said: “This is the first export train and just the start of a regular direct service between the UK and China”. Restoring the Silk Road route is seen as an important and exciting initiative for the company.