Launched on 1 January, the service is operated by Yiwu Timex Industrial Investment Co, a Chinese cross-border trade service provider, the China Daily newspaper reported. It will cover the journey of more than 12,000 kilometres from China in 18 days, the route running through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France, before arriving in London.
The company has been running freight trains twice a week between China and Madrid in Spain, via the German city of Duisburg, for more than a year.
Onetwothree Logistics is the sole UK agent for the service, handling the UK customs clearance and distribution for Chinese exports, and collecting UK exports for the return train to China, the report said.
“This cargo train service highlights the important trade partnership between the UK and China post-Brexit,” said Onetwothree Logistics’ manager, Oscar Lin. He added that while the service mainly serves the China-UK trade, it will also make stops in Germany and France to serve the China-Europe trade.
The new freight train service has been welcomed by logistics industry players, the report added.
UK forwarder Brunel Project Cargo’s group operations director, Mike White, said: “This is going to change the way a lot of forwarders and shippers view their imports and exports for China.”
He underlined that the service’s key advantage would be its quick transit time, particularly suitable for exporters whose products are delayed in the manufacturing process and want to save time during delivery.
The cost of Asia-Europe rail freight has often been estimated to be around half that of air freight while transit times are half those of sea freight.