New Silk Road rail freight service leaves UK

The first UK – China New Silk Road train has just departed the UK using the Channel Tunnel.

The CMA CGM rail freight service runs from London Gateway to Duisburg and then on across Asia to China. GB Railfreight and Transfesa are supporting the rail cargo route.

The plan is for one London – Duisburg New Silk Road return trip a week, with plans to increase this up to six return trips a week in the future.

Eurotunnel said the introduction of this service and its connection to the new Silk Road “is further proof of Eurotunnel’s determination to relaunch rail freight, as already demonstrated with the construction of the whole-train scanner in Frethun, the introduction of the ETICA scheme, which supports the launch of new services, and the restructuring implemented to add efficiency to border formalities at the Frethun yard with Europorte Channel.”

China is promoting the currently loss-making rail freight route as a quicker route than by sea and a cheaper route than air freight. Moreso than by air and even sea, the New Silk Road route does encounter politics on the way – the Russia route for example can come a cropper to the strained relations between the EU and Russia and dictate what can and cannot go on the trains. Iran wants to get involved but is also subject to geopolitical bickering…