First rail freight service Xian, China – Prague, Czech Republic via TurkeyThe China Railway Express is also called the "Iron Silk Road." It's part of Beijing's far-reaching 'Belt and Road' infrastructure project. China aims to use the train to transport goods across the two continents in less than two weeks. Shamim Chowdhury travelled to Ankara to meet it.
The train is the first to connect China to Central Asia, Russia and Europe without any interruptions.
The train will cut travel time from China to Turkey from one month to just 12 days, and the entire route takes 18 days.
It’s 11,500-kilometer journey, starts from the Chinese city Xi’an, then passes through Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Georgia before entering Eastern Turkey at Kars. It then heads to Ankara, Istanbul, and into Europe passing through Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, and Slovakia before finally reaching Prague, Czech Republic.
China and other countries plan to invest up to 8 trillion dollars in the project. And Beijing has made additional agreement with Ankara.
The 2 countries are planning to spend around 14 billion dollars to create extra trade routes. The project is part of a vision Turkey has to create uninterrupted connection between Asia and Europe.
Turkey is a bridge between Europe and Asia, it has very important strategic position and its economy is growing very rapidly, Turkey has very important global economy, said Sun Yimin, the Xi’an International Trade Director.
In the early hours of Thursday, the train arrived in Istanbul, the first freight train to pass the Marmaray tunnel that connects the Asian part of the city and European side. As it heads towards the final leg of its journey, the China Railway Express holds a new era in international trade.