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First direct train from UK to China arrives in eastern town of Yiwu after 7,500 mile journey

The first ever direct train from Britain to China arrived in the eastern city of Yiwu at the weekend after a 7,456-mile journey.

The ‘East Wind’ locomotive travelled through seven countries before arriving at its destination with a cargo of 88 shipping containers filled with alcohol, pharmaceuticals and baby products.

It left London on 10 April and its journey took several days longer than expected. But officials said transporting goods by train is about a month faster than by ship. 

In January, the train made the 17-day journey to Barking, east London from Yiwu, Zhejiang province.

"This freight train is a reflection of the achievements of trade," Timmy Feng, Chairman of Yiwu Timex, which operated the train, told Reuters.

After leaving London, the bright red train passed through seven countries -- France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan -- before entering China. In Yiwu, the train was greeted by Timex employees who waved Chinese and British flags. 

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For Britain, the train is part of an effort to strengthen trade links with the rest of the world as it prepares to leave the European Union in two years' time.

London is now 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 President Xi Jinping.

One Belt, One Road is aimed at reviving the ancient Silk Road trade route and developing trade with Europe and other Asian countries.

The train’s name derives from a saying by Chairman Mao: ‘The East Wind shall prevail over the West’.

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