China launches first freight train to London

The train will travel for about 18 days and more than 12,000 kilometers before reaching the UK

China launches first freight train to London

File photo of China's President Xi Jinping. | Image: Luis Hidalgo AP/Press Association Images

China launched its first freight train to London this week, the China Railway Corporation said.

Departing from Yiwu West Railway Station in eastern Zhejiang Province, the train will travel for about 18 days and more than 12,000 kilometers before reaching its destination in Britain.

The route runs through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France, before arriving in London. The UK is the eighth country to be added to the China-Europe service, and London is the 15th city.

The addition is part of China’s “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) intercontinental trade and infrastructure project backed by President Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Launched in 2013, "One Belt, One Road" is an infrastructure and trade network connecting Asia with Africa and Europe along old Silk Road trading routes.

"The progress and results of the Belt and Road Initiative have been greater than expected," China’s state newswire Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.

The China Railway Corporation said the train to London will strengthen the connection between China and Western Europe and improve China-Britain trade ties.

China's exports totalled $2.27 trillion in 2015, slowing down from $2.34 trillion in 2014.

Its economic growth slipped to 6.9 percent in 2015 from 7.3 percent in 2014, marking the slowest growth in 25 years.