It is unlikely to challenge large-scale ocean container shipping in the near future, but the first freight train from China arrived in the UK on Wednesday.
The train arrived in DB Cargo’s London Eurohub terminal 18 days after leaving in Yiwu in Zhejiang, China, a journey of 12,000 km.
The landmark rail freight journey added London to the InterRail Group service from China along with Duisburg, Madrid, Afghanistan and Riga.
It forms part of China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative and according to DB Cargo 40,000 containers were transported on the route in 2016. This is a number that equals slightly more than two single vessel transits by ultra-large containerships operating on the Asia – Europe trade today, so is hardly a major threat to deep sea container shipping.
However, it does provide an interesting alternative to shippers seeking a faster alternative to ocean shipping, but that is still significantly cheaper than air freight.
“The service is used in particular by customers with time-sensitive commodities, including special promotional clothing items, and capital-intensive goods, such as automotive parts and electronics,” DB Cargo said.
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