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Freight train completes marathon journey from Chinese city to London

The first freight train service from China to the UK arrived on Wednesday.

Some 34 containers packed with c lothes, bags and millions of pairs of socks completed the 7,456-mile journey to east London.

The 18-day trip saw the boxes transported from the city of Yiwu in eastern China to a rail freight terminal in Barking.

A fanfare of costumed dancers, drummers and choreographers posing as Chinese dragons welcomed the inaugural service alongside members of the Chinese embassy and trade representatives.

The freight passed through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France before entering the UK via the Channel Tunnel.

A number of different locomotives and wagons were used as 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.

Weekly trains will initially be run to assess demand.

China Railway already has freight services to a number of European destinations, including Hamburg and Madrid.

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.

Mike White, group operations director of Brunel Project Cargo, which is involved in the London service, t old Railway Gazette: " The new service has a very quick transit time."

He added: " We believe this is going to change the way a lot of forwarders and shippers view their imports and exports for China."

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