DUBBED the new Silk Road, the world's longest train journey that crosses the whole of Central Asia and Europe has been inaugurated in China.
The route over which will the hauled 82 freight wagons, starts in the city of Yew, 100 kilometres inland from Ningbo, a centre for small consumer products and ends in Madrid.
The Washington Post reports that the journey will take 21 days and cover 9,977 kilometres (6,200 miles), or 724 kilometres longer than the Trans-Siberian Railway.
According to Russian media, 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, reported Toronto's Digital Journal.
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 Xinhua.
At the moment, the running of the rail link is expensive, but authorities say that as trade expands, its costs will fall. Currently, China's trade with Europe amounts to US$1 billion per day.
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.