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First Direct China-Britain Freight Train Arrives Back In China
The East Wind took 20 days to complete the world's second-longest rail route (CCSS Level: Grade 9, Words: 445)
Apr 30, 2017 World News
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Beijing, April 29, and the first freight train traveling from Britain back to China reached its destination in eastern China's Yiwu city on Saturday, after a 19 day journey, becoming the world's second-longest rail route, according to China Railway Corporation (CRC).

London is the 15th European city on an expanding map of destinations for China's rail cargo. The very first Chinese freight train arrived in London in January.

The trans-continental freight train, loaded with 32 containers, mainly laden with whisky and baby milk, departed from London on April 10. The journey is the latest effort in China's drive to strengthen trade links with Western Europe along a modern-day "Silk Road" route.

"The train arrived at around 9:30am to Yiwu on Saturday," the Yiwu Tianmeng Industry Company said.

The China-Britain freight service is slated to provide a safe and efficient trade route by land, strengthening bilateral trade ties and better serving the China-proposed "One Belt, One Road" strategy in 2013 which has seen millions poured into constructing vast infrastructure links, according to the CRC.

The train, which was also carrying pharmaceuticals and machinery - having traveled more than 12,000 kilometres, passed through France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan before reaching the Chinese major manufacturing and trade hub where small goods such as homeware, garments and souvenirs are made.

The new route is longer than Russia's famous Trans-siberian railway, but about 1,000km shorter than the record-holding China-Madrid link, which opened in 2014. This journey should be 30 days faster than moving the goods by ship, the provincial government has said, but the pilot run took two days more than the 18 days expected. And the train, named the East Wind, has much less carrying capacity, just 88 shipping containers, according to the Yiwu government compared to the 10,000 to 20,000 containers a cargo ship can carry.

It's unclear how much the venture cost, and some experts have questioned whether the ambitious project makes economic sense.

"The reality is that there is nothing new here. Transcontinental rail transit has existed for over a century," said Ms Theresa Fallon, director of the Centre for Russia, Europe and Asia Studies in Brussels. The launch of the new rail route was a bid to show post-Brexit Britain that there were other trade options than neighbouring Europe, she said. But "this train will transport to China British socks, Scotch and soda pop-which hardly heralds a bright new age of Sino-UK trade."

Prime Minister Theresa May will visit China later this year, with talks likely to include closer trade ties looking forward to when Britain leaves the European Union, according to British officials.

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