First freight train from China to Britain arrives in London

A combination of photos shows the first freight train to travel from China to Britain as it arrives at a welcoming ceremony to mark the inaugural trip at Barking Intermodal Terminal near London, Britain January 18, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

The first train on an inaugural China-Britain freight service arrived in London on Wednesday after a 7,500-mile journey, marking a fresh milestone in China’s push to build commercial links across Europe and Asia.

The train pulled in to Barking in East London after an 18-day journey from Yiwu, a wholesale market town in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang.

It had passed through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France, finally crossing under the English Channel into Britain.

The consignment would have taken nearly twice as long to reach Britain by sea.

Laden with 68 twenty-foot equivalent containers, the train brought in a cargo of small commodities including household items, clothes, fabrics, bags, and suitcases.

Run by Yiwu Timex Industrial Investment, the Yiwu-London freight service makes London the 15th European city to have a direct rail link with China after the 2013 unveiling of the “One Belt, One Road” initiative by Chinese premier Xi Jinping.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said the relationship with China remains “golden” as she seeks to bring in billions of dollars in Chinese investment as Britain prepares to leave the European Union.

(Reporting by Ritvik Carvalho; editing by Stephen Addison)