UK to China rail intermodal service begins

Trains Industry Newsletter
Get a weekly roundup of the industry news you need.
By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine. View our privacy policy.
LONDON — The first-ever U.K. export train bound for China is on its way just under three months after the first-ever import train from China arrived in the U.K.

The train departed Monday and will make the 7,500 mile, three-week-long journey, traveling from DP World London Gateway’s state-of-the-art rail terminal in South Essex, England, bound for Yiwu in the Zhe Jiang province in eastern China. Products on board included soft drinks, vitamins, pharmaceuticals, and baby products.

Promoters say that while the journey is more expensive than ocean transport, it is much quicker than a normal six-to-eight-week sailing of a cargo ship to China and cheaper than air freight moves.

A gathered group of railroad, business and port officials watched as the last three of 30 forty-foot containers were loaded on to freight cars before seeing the train depart.

Liming Liang, vice governor of the Zhejiang province, joined Rupert Soames, the U.K. Prime Minister's business ambassador for infrastructure and transport, DP World group chairman and CEO, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, the mayor of Yiwu, Shi Wenzhen, Xubin Feng, Chairman of Yiwu Timex Industrial Investment Co. and other Chinese and U.K. regional and local government delegates, customers and staff at a ceremony and reception at DP World London Gateway.

The service comes less than two weeks after the triggering of Article 50 and the start of the formal process of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, which has placed an emphasis on the U.K. to secure trade deals with countries around the world.

“This new rail link with China is another boost for Global Britain, following the ancient Silk Road trade route to carry British products around the world. It shows the huge global demand for quality U.K. goods,” says Greg Hands, minister of state in the Department for International Trade.

Motive power for the inaugural movement was 66136, an Electro-Motive Diesel Class 66 17-year old six-axle diesel electric freight locomotive based in the Midlands, England. It weighs 143 tons and has a top speed of 105 mph. The locomotive, in DB livery, was embellished with logos associated with the operation and the inaugural service.

This locomotive had propelled the inaugural service into the first container train travelling between China and the U.K. in January. The service had arrived at DB Cargo UK’s London Eurohub terminal in Barking, Essex, England, which is connected to the High Speed 1 rail line from the Channel Tunnel. However, the service had been hauled by an electric locomotive and had to be pushed into the non-electrified terminal track.

The service is part of China's One Belt, One Road program and is expected to be operated once every two weeks, with a greater frequency planned later in the year. After passing through the Channel Tunnel into France and Belgium, the DB Cargo locomotive will call in Duisburg, Germany before InterRail pull the cargo through Poland, Belarus, Russia, and Kazahkstan before the train crosses to Yiwu, China.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

  • Previous Day
  • April 12, 2017
  • Next Day
Leave a Comment
Want to leave a comment?
Only registered members of are allowed to leave comments. Registration is FREE and only takes a couple minutes.

Login or Register now.
Please keep your feedback on-topic and respectful. Trains staffers reserve the right to edit or delete any comments.


Complex railroad locations.

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy
Subscribe Up To 54% off the newsstand price!
Subscribe To Trains Mag Today