‘Silk Road’ train: A moment arrives

The first Chinese commercial train reached Tehran on Monday.

Published: February 17, 2016 12:55:17 am
Untitled-7 The 32-container train, operated by the Yiwu Tianmeng Industry Investment Company, which left Yiwu in Zhejiang province on January 28, pulls into Tehran on February 15. (Screengrab from Iran’s PressTV)

The first Chinese commercial train reached Tehran on Monday — a moment of immense geopolitical significance, and the revival, the official news agencies of the two countries said, of the ancient Silk Road.

The Journey: distance of 10,399 km

FROM: Yiwu, eastern China

TO: Tehran, Iran

VIA: Xinjiang, the Alataw Pass, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan

In 14 days: travelling 740 km on average daily.

The Comparison
The journey took a full month less than the sea route from Shanghai to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, sailing the Indian Ocean around India. Mohsen Pour Seyed Aghaei, president of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways Company, was quoted by Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency as describing the train’s arrival in Tehran “in less than a fortnight” as an “unprecedented achievement” that had outstripped “truck and road transport”. Aghaei has said that Iran’s goal is to have the rail route extend deep into Europe, with the country positioned on a key stretch.

Belt And Road

THE INITIATIVE, introduced by President Xi Jinping in 2013 envisages a revival of the ancient Silk Road network, through improved road, rail and air transport networks.

THE TEHRAN train, part of the Belt And Road Initiative, is loaded with Chinese small commodities, and intended to push China’s economic ties with the Middle East. Yiwu, a large production base for small commodities, is home to 4,000 Middle Eastern businessmen and over 180 firms set up by Middle Eastern investors, according to Xinhua.

PRESIDENT Hassan Rouhani has pledged to continue Iran’s close ties with China, its biggest trading partner. The countries last month signed a deal to boost trade to $ 600 billion over the next decade. Iran has already pledged support to the New Silk Road initiative, according to official media in China.

Map and text adapted from the AP and releases by Iran's Press TV and China’s Xinhua

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