First freight train from UK to China departs today
10 April 2017
The first rail freight service direct from the UK to China will depart on a 7,500-mile journey from Essex today.
Thirty containers will carry British goods including whisky, soft drinks, vitamins and pharmaceuticals.
A DB Cargo locomotive will leave the DP World London Gateway rail terminal in Stanford-le-Hope for the city of Yiwu in Zhejiang province, eastern China.
Travelling through the Channel Tunnel the train will pass through seven other countries - France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan - before arriving on 27 April.
The operators say it is cheaper to send goods by train than by air and faster than by sea.
The service is part of China's One Belt, One Road programme aimed at reviving the ancient Silk Road trading routes with the West dating back more than 2,000 years.
DP World chief executive Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem said it was a "significant trade occasion".
"DP World London Gateway, one of the UK's largest logistics hubs, is designed and developed to ensure products can be both imported and exported from the UK via ship or train in a faster, safer and more reliable way than ever before," he added.
"We look forward to enabling and facilitating more trade between the UK, China and the whole world."
The first rail freight service in the opposite direction, from China to the UK, arrived three months ago - read more.