London joins New Silk Road

New Silk Road: London is set to become the latest and 15th European city to feel the impact of Chinese plans to create a 21st-century equivalent of the ancient Silk Road trade route later this month after the China Railway Corporation announced that it had launched the first direct rail freight service to the UK’s  capital from Yiwu West Railway Station in Zhejiang Province. Carrying a cargo of clothes, bags and other household items, the  first train  pulled out of Yiwu on Sunday and is scheduled to take 18 days to make the 7,400-mile  journey via Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France to the Barking Rail Freight Terminal in East London.
The service, which is initially expected to run once a week,  is being operated by the Yiwu Timex Industrial Investment Company that has been operating the Yiwu-Madrid Freight Railway between China and Spain  – said to be the longest freight rail line in the world – since 2014.
 President Xi Jinping launched the ‘One Belt One Road’  initiative during a visit to Astana four years ago,  and Beijing has  subsequently been instrumental in developing 39 multi-gauge rail routes linking 16 Chinese cities to eight European countries in a dual bid to secure Chinese industry access to hydrocarbons and other raw materials, and to open up new markets for its manufacturers: One Belt, One Road, One Driver.