China's first direct freight train to UK arrives in London

The first freight train service from China to the UK arrived in London on Wednesday completing its 18-day trip.

Some 34 containers packed with mainly clothes and other high street goods completed the 7,456-mile (11,999km) journey in east London.

The train departed east China's Yiwu City in Zhejiang Province on New Year's Day and is scheduled to arrive in Barking just after lunchtime.

The 7,400-mile journey passed through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France before entering the UK via the Channel Tunnel.

It is hoped the China Railway train will become a cost-efficient and time-saving way of transporting trade between China and the UK.

The train left Yiwu West Railway Station following a departure ceremony. Credit: EBU

A number of different locomotives and wagons were used as the railways of the former Soviet Union states have a larger rail gauge than the other countries involved.

The service is cheaper than air freight and faster than sending goods by sea.

Fang Xudong, vice general manager of Tianmeng Industrial Investment, said: "The fast train route between Yiwu and London takes 30 days less than maritime transportation, while only costing a fifth of air transportation."

Some 68 containers have been hauled across 7,400 miles. Credit: EBU

The trains will run weekly initially to assess demand.

So far there have been 40 freight train routes connecting Asia to 14 European cities, which form part of a trade route launched in 2013.

They are part of China's One Belt, One Road programme of reviving the ancient Silk Road trading routes to the West, initially created more than 2,000 years ago.