China train fact of the day

by on April 11, 2017 at 3:02 pm in Current Affairs, Travel | Permalink

The first China-bound cargo train carrying British products left London on Monday for an eastern Chinese city, highlighting another historic moment in the China-initiated Belt and Road Initiative.

The cross-continent freight, loaded with 32 containers carrying products including milk powder and soft drinks, left from east London’s DP World gateway for the Chinese city of Yiwu amid cheers and applause.

The front of the red locomotive was seen with a sign board that reads “First London-Yiwu Train.”

The 12,000-km journey will pass through nine countries in 18 days. During the trip, the train’s locomotives have to be changed due to different railway gauges in the countries.

Here is the article, via George Chen.

1 JWatts April 11, 2017 at 3:14 pm

Interesting, but it seems really weird. London is a famous port city. Shipping with actual ships would seem far more economical.

2 msgkings April 11, 2017 at 3:17 pm

Maybe it takes longer than 18 days by ship?

3 MOFO April 11, 2017 at 3:18 pm

According to the fine article:

“The cost for the current freight batch is almost the same as the sea transportation,” said Lam, whose company uses 10 out of the 32 containers, “But it is twice faster than through the sea route.”

So faster, but slightly more expensive.

4 JWatts April 11, 2017 at 3:28 pm

Good catch. I didn’t notice the article continued past the picture.

5 Newnall April 11, 2017 at 6:21 pm

If they’ve never done it before…..

….there’s probably a reason.

6 Dzhaughn April 11, 2017 at 3:17 pm

There is no great powdered milk stagnation. Plus lots of bilateral confidence!

7 spencer April 11, 2017 at 3:18 pm

If the engines have to be changed due to different gauges won’t the freight cars have to also be reloaded.

That would sure cut into the economics of that journey.

8 Believe it! April 11, 2017 at 3:20 pm

Trains are very much a fascination of the left side of the bell curve set.

9 Affe April 11, 2017 at 7:23 pm
10 Amigo April 11, 2017 at 3:23 pm

I would like to see the “change over” stations and the loading/unloading process.

11 Jan April 11, 2017 at 5:31 pm

One part of that process on the Trans Siberian:

12 Amigo April 11, 2017 at 6:00 pm


13 JK Brown April 11, 2017 at 3:33 pm

I was curious about that as well.

I will speculate, that the freight cars needing the least amount of contact with the rail for efficiency can be fitted with wheels that can accommodate rail gauge variations. The locomotives, however, need the most effective contact with the rails to have efficient transfer of power?

Or, they are obfuscating local national railroad workers’ union control over train passage across national rails?

14 Mike April 11, 2017 at 3:50 pm

It looks like they do either exchange the wheel trucks under the rail cars ( or just re-load the containers onto different cars.

15 JWatts April 11, 2017 at 4:06 pm

If they are container cars, you just have to move the container to a different flat bed with a crane.

16 Matthew Ernest April 11, 2017 at 4:52 pm

Freight cars with either replaceable trucks or variable gauge trucks are available; electric locomotives with variable gauge are also used on passenger lines. However, diesel locomotives are harder to accommodate with either method, so it’s easier to swap the whole engine.

17 Hadur April 11, 2017 at 3:23 pm

I think there’s already a large number of people who travel from London to Beijing by train (via Siberia) as a long vacation.

18 Thiago Ribeiro April 11, 2017 at 3:54 pm

Yet, the Chinese refime ives on borrowed time.

19 Thiago Ribeiro April 11, 2017 at 3:55 pm

regime lives on borrowed time.

20 Thor April 11, 2017 at 9:00 pm

It might borrow time, but it lends money.

21 rayward April 11, 2017 at 4:12 pm

Another instance of China reaching out, as America builds walls. The little China man pursues trade, as the big American man hides. Of course, a rail line connecting London and China is a metaphor, just as the scared American building a wall is a metaphor. Evangelicals elected our president, and separatism is their providence. As China invests in productive capital, America speculates in real estate and financial assets. Who are the capitalists?

22 TMC April 11, 2017 at 6:31 pm

Great Wall of America doesn’t sound good? Why can’t we have one too?

23 Anon April 11, 2017 at 7:52 pm

Not sure if ” Make America Great Wall again ” was the slogan.

24 Thor April 11, 2017 at 8:58 pm

Must you be obtuse?

China has been as anti-foreigner as any culture has ever been, with the exception of Japan and possibly Korea. It has committed cultural genocide in the areas it wishes to control/own (Tibet). The pollution levels are grotesque, bespeaking a distinct lack of interest in the “little people” who work in the factories (I take it that the Politburo figures don’t live in the polluted areas).

Of course China is pursuing trade (and its own form of state capitalism). For the moment. I.e., as long as it suits its current oligarchs. It has workers to keep busy. Good. Trade is, on balance, a very good thing. However, China is acting out of the rankest self interest.

America has probably been the most immigration friendly nation in human history. That a blowhard reality TV star has tapped into some currents of dissatisfaction about 1 million+ immigrants per year hardly means Americans are hiding or are scared. They might just be pissed off that they were not consulted when their betters decided that modest immigration should be replaced by a much larger inflow. There is already a kind of wall at our southern border. It might become a bigger wall or it might not. There is already a kind of wall running across Mexica’s southern border.

25 anon April 12, 2017 at 7:55 am

“America has probably been the most immigration friendly nation in human history. ” – It must be nice to know so little world history.

26 The Centrist April 11, 2017 at 8:59 pm

Dude, which country has the largest wall in human history? You can see it from space.

27 Zach April 11, 2017 at 5:46 pm

Time for a reboot of Murder on the Orient Express!

28 Thor April 11, 2017 at 9:00 pm


29 Ray Lopez April 11, 2017 at 10:31 pm

And I still thought, when I finished this book after reading this book a month ago, that the Greek doctor did it! I seriously thought he was the culprit. No s**t Sherlock!

30 TallDave April 11, 2017 at 6:16 pm

Somewhat O/T:

What is holding China together?…The key reason is a combination of capital controls (which allow Beijing to use monetary easing to reduce debt default pressure and prevent a systemic crisis without suffering massive capital flight) and a tiny foreign debt.

China’s capital controls have been effective as the major outflow drivers of Chinese banks’ foreign lending and companies’ overseas direct investment (ODI) are easy targets for controls (Chart 2). Notably, foreign M&As of USD10 billion or more have recently been banned while all ODI applications have been subjected to increased scrutiny. Other control measures include curbing mainland Chinese buying insurance and property in Hong Kong, upping FX disclosure requirements, increasing scrutiny on onshore individual FX transactions, and asking Chinese banks to stop processing cross-border yuan payments until inflows and outflows are balanced.

They’re going the wrong way. They should have floated as soon as they reached that magical inflection point where they stopped having to hold down their currency and started having to support it. They could have accepted market outcomes and taken their lumps as a necessary step toward joining the international community, but instead they’re doubling down on Reality With Chinese Characteristics, in essence virtually guaranteeing there will be few consequences now at the expense of exacerbating possible consequences later, and in pushing the issue off on the next Five Year Plan demonstrating once again how little men really know about what they imagine they can design.

If they can’t find enough growth to rescind these measures soon, they’re going to start feeling as permanent as the Chinese Communist Party’s rule, and the pressure to move capital out will only grow if it becomes apparent more restrictions are on the way and citizens begin to react to the writing on the wall.

31 Ray Lopez April 11, 2017 at 10:48 pm

That’s interesting TallDave. Now reconsider your OT given that the evidence shows money is largely neutral.

32 JWatts April 12, 2017 at 10:06 am

“Now reconsider your OT given that the evidence shows money is largely neutral.”

I don’t really follow why your comment is relevant to his post?

33 Ray Lopez April 12, 2017 at 12:42 pm

Google it JWatts. If money is neutral, then monetarism does not work (TallDave mentions monetarism).

34 Axa April 12, 2017 at 5:57 am

A shinny Deutsche Bahn locomotive…..I’m sure this is a metaphor of something, but I’m not sure what.

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