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First ever freight train from China arrives in London

18 January 2017

The first ever freight train from China to the UK carrying consumer products arrives today at the DB Cargo Eurohub terminal at Barking, London.

The train, which started in Yiwu in eastern China, has travelled through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France before arriving in the UK on the HS1 line. The 12,000 km journey by rail took 17 days, half the time sea transport takes. Rail, like sea, is a safer more sustainable way to carry cargo than either air or road freight. In fact rail, which is much cheaper than air freight, produces around 20 times less CO2 emission than air freight and around four times less CO2 emissions than HGVs. 

Philippa Edmunds, Freight on Rail Manager said: “On this historic occasion, I will be there to welcome the first ever freight train from China to the UK carrying clothing and a range of consumer products. This is modern rail freight at its best. Rail is a crucial part of the logistics supply chain and is well placed to offer long distance traffic both internationally and in the UK, as this story shows. Consumer traffic grew 7 per cent in the first quarter of this year, the highest level since 1998; overall, it has grown by 30 per cent in last 10 years.”


For further information please contact Philippa Edmunds on 020 8241 9982 / 07593 976 548 /philippa.edmunds@bettertransport.org.uk or Richard Watkins on 020 7566 6494 / 07984 773 468 / richard.watkins@bettertransport.org.uk

Notes to Editors

- DB Cargo handled the train from Duisberg to the UK and has been operating weekly services of container trains with partners since 2011 between China and Germany. The train to London, which consists of 34 containers, is part of a trial which will hopefully continue.

- Rail freight is much safer than HGVs, which were almost six times more likely than cars to be involved in fatal crashes on local/urban roads in the UK. Source Traffic statistics table TRA0104, Accident statistics Table RAS 30017, both DfT

- Freight on Rail is a partnership between Campaign for Better Transport, the rail freight industry and transport trade unions.

 - Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).