China has launched its first freight train to London over 12,000 kms away as part of efforts by the worlds second largest economy to expand rail links to different areas across the globe to improve its dwindling exports and stabilise slowdown.
The train departed from Chinas international commodity hub Yiwu in Zhejiang Province on Sunday.
It will travel for about 18 days and more than 12,000 kilometres before reaching its destination in Britain, the China Railway Corporation (CRC) said.
Yiwu is known for producing small commodities, and the train mainly carried such goods, including household items, garments, cloth, bags and suitcases.
It will pass through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France before arriving in London, state- run Xinhua news agency reported.
London is the 15th city in Europe added to China-Europe freight train services.
The service will improve China-Britain trade ties, strengthen connectivity with western Europe, while better serving Chinas Belt and Road Initiative, an infrastructure and trade network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along ancient trade routes, the CRC said.
Chinas exports totalled to USD 2.27 trillion in 2015 slowing down from USD 2.34 trillion in 2014. Its economy grew at 6.9 per cent in 2015, slipping below seven per cent in a quarter of century.
As part of its efforts to stabilise its exports and economy, China has embarked on multi-billion dollar global connectivity project called the One Belt One Road (Silk Road).