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London freight train

It's not on a boat, it's not on a plane, it's on a train. The newest way to send your freight from China to Europe involves spending 15 days on a train that doesn't have a buffet car in sight.

On 3 January in Yiwu in eastern China, a bright orange locomotive pulling 44 containers laden with suitcases, clothes and an assortment of household goods set off on a 7,500 mile (12,replica rolex date,000km) journey to western Europe.

Ten containers were taken off at the German cargo hub of Duisburg. The rest made up the first cargo train from China to arrive in London at Barking's Eurohub freight terminal.

London is the 15th European city to find its way on to the ever expanding map of destinations for China's rail cargo. Last year, 1,702 freight trains made the voyage to Europe,fake rolex day date, more than double the 2015 figure.

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Market demandThe UK's biggest supermarket, Tesco, doesn't have any goods on this particular train but does use rail to carry toys, electrical goods, homeware and clothing from China to European rail hubs such as Bratislava in Slovakia and Krasnaje in Belarus.

Alistair Lindsay,imitation rolex day date womens, Tesco's head of global logistics, says the supermarket prefers shipping its goods because this is the most environmentally friendly way, as well as offering the best value for money, but that "where we need to move products quicker we have that option to do it by rail".

This decision would normally be driven by customer demand for particular products, he says.

This rail expansion is part of President Xi's "One Belt, One Road" (OBOR) trade policy. For Beijing it offers another way to sustain its economic growth.

Kazakhstan is one of the countries on the route and it was there that Mr Xi first outlined his vision in a speech in 2013 saying, "This will be a great undertaking benefiting the people of all countries along the route."

Extolling the virtues of globalisation was a theme he repeated again at Davos this week.

For some, this is as much political as economic, offering Beijing the chance to project soft power as well as demonstrating it has the influence to thread disparate nations from Russia to Spain together.

This is the "first argument when trying to get our customers to re evaluate their options", says Johan Ignell, rail freight manager at Swedish cargo firm Greencarrier.

It calculates that a 40ft (12m) container with 20 tonnes of cargo would account for just 4% of the CO2 emissions it would take to move it by air (though emissions would be more than halved again if it were moved by sea),rolex day date ladies replica.

Freight transport accounts for about 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but it is "fraught with difficulty" to compare emissions from different transport modes, says Prof Alan McKinnon of Germany's Kuehne Logistics University.

He adds: "While shifting air cargo to rail will certainly cut emissions, container shipping will continue to command a significant carbon advantage over transcontinental rail, particularly now that most vessels are slow steaming to save fuel."

There is also a business case for this emerging trade route to grow. Not least among European companies looking to export to China.

At the moment there are no plans to run a return train service from London but that could change quickly. China is already the European Union's second biggest export market though there is an EU trade deficit in goods of about $190bn.

Growth potentialFor UK companies facing up to the reality of Brexit, China is an attractive proposition and the train carries new opportunities.

Brand Avenue is a company that already exports British made goods including cosmetics and jewellery to China, and chief executive Jody Jacobs says he's exploring moving to rail.

"We deal a lot in goods which weigh a lot in comparison to their volume [which is] where airfreight becomes expensive, such as cosmetics and baby food.

"So for us a service which is quicker than sea and cheaper than air is a great middle ground."

For established cargo companies rail also offers the potential for growth. Shipping lines have seen profits fall because of overcapacity attributed to the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

The world's biggest shipping company, Maersk, told the BBC it is investigating "possible opportunities" in long distance rail, though it sees them as supplementary to sea and air routes.

China is planning another 20 European routes for rail freight, and with the world's demand for consumer goods continuing to grow, all the ingredients seem to be there for rail to help the global economy steam ahead in 2017 and beyond.

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