INTERNATIONAL: The first direct rail freight service to operate between China and Spain arrived at ADIF’s Madrid Abroñigal intermodal terminal on December 9, welcomed by Spanish Development Minister Ana Pastor. Carrying a total of 30 containers, the train had left Yiwu in China on November 18, covering 13 000 km in 21 days.

The route via Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany and France involved a change of gauge at three border crossings, as well as locomotive changes approximately every 800 km. The service was operated by InterRail Services and DB Schenker Rail, with DB’s Spanish subsidiary Transfesa providing traction on the final leg to Madrid.

The through service is the result of initiatives agreed by the governments of China and Spain in September 2014 to develop closer trading relations. The Spanish Ministry of Development points out that the trial has demonstrated the ‘reliable, versatile and competitive’ nature of rail freight, the overland journey having saved over 10 days of transit time compared to sea freight.