China has begun its first freight train to London as part of President Xi Jinping’s efforts to bolster trade ties with Europe.
The train left Yiwu West Railway Station in Zhejiang province Sunday and is headed for the British capital, according to Xinhua, China's state-run news agency.
London becomes the 15th European city with direct trains from China following the unveiling of Xi’s so-called Belt-and-Road initiative in 2013.
The train will travel for 18 days over more than 7,500 miles (12,000 km) to reach Britain from China, Xinhua said.
A direct rail link between Beijing and Western Europe enables manufacturers to explore new means to lower transport costs. The line may not provide a suitable alternative to all producers, but canny negotiators can leverage the new market entrant to lower prices of their established pathways by boat or plane.
It will pass through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France before arriving in London.
The train, carrying a cargo of clothes, bags and other household items has the advantage of being cheaper than air freight and faster than sea.