World's longest train journey — China to Spain opens

Posted Nov 23, 2014 by Stephen Morgan
China has inaugurated the world's longest train journey, traversing the whole of Central Asia and Europe. Dubbed the new Silk Road, it is expected to give a major economic boost to trade between China and the EU.
Its route will take it from the city of Yiwu on the Pacific Coast to Madrid, the capital of Spain. The Washington Post reports that the journey will take 21 days and cover 6,200 miles (9,977kms). This makes it 450 miles (724kms) longer than the Trans-Siberian railway between Vladivostok and Moscow, which previously held top place.
According to RT, the train will pass through China's western region of Xinjiang and then continue through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany and France before reaching Spain.
It departs from Yiwu, which is a centre for small consumer products, some 200 miles south of Shanghai. The Washington Post describes the city as a "home to a curious mix of foreign businessmen and petty traders, including a large community of Arabs."
China's aim is to expand its trade with the European markets, which amounts to more than $1 billion per day. The train is one of many similar long distance rail links in the pipeline. The goal is to "reduce dependence on sea and air cargo transport,” according to China’s state press agency.
Using long distance trains has been calculated to be much faster than sea transport and a lot cheaper than air. Sea transport from China has incurred massive overhead costs in building suitable ports for its ships in the Indian Ocean and Africa, in order to reach European markets.
At the moment, the running of the rail link is expensive, but authorities say that as trade expands, its costs will fall. The train will pull 82 cargo wagons and a test route run at the beginning of the year, which ended in Central Asia, already brought in an extra $39 million in trade for the Yiwu region.
However, this isn't the most ambitious of China's plans to expand international rail connections. Back in March, the Daily Mail reported that Chinese authorities hope to build a train link to America. The proposed route would be over 8,000 miles long (12,900kms).
The train would travel through Russia's North Eastern Siberian provinces and then enter a 125 mile (200kms) undersea tunnel below the Bering Strait, resurfacing in Alaska, continuing through Canada and then finally arriving in the USA.
The Chinese say that travelling at 217 mph (350kph), it would reach the US in two days. However, the Daily Mail adds that it is unclear whether the scheme has the agreement of the Russian, Canadian and US governments.
China is the world leader in long distance and high speed train travel. It has built the world's longest bullet train network covering more than 6,000 miles (9,650kms) of intercity connections, including the world's longest high-speed link between Beijing and Guangzhou, a distance of 1,428 miles (2,300kms).