The first train connecting China to Iran through the ancient Silk Road has arrived in the Iranian capital after traveling over 10,000 kilometers, head of the Iranian railway company said.
According to Iranian media, the train, which has been launched in an effort to revive the ancient road, is carrying 32 containers of commercial products originating from China’s eastern province of Zhejiang.
The trip from China to Iran has taken 14 days over 10,399 (about 6,500 miles), taking the cargo train through Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, Fars news agency reported.
"The arrival of this train in less than 14 days is unprecedented," said head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways, Mohsen Pourseyyed Aqai.
He added, "This is an important step for the revival of the Silk Road and the train has traveled 700 km per day, saving 30 days compared to normal time that takes to go this distance.”
The official added that at present, the train’s travel schedule is monthly, but its frequency will increase if need be.
“The time spent by this train” to reach the Iranian capital “has been 30 days shorter compared with the maritime route, which starts from China’s Shanghai port and ends in Iran's Bandar Abbas” port city, Pourseyyed Aqai noted.
The official stated that the train has traveled 700 km per day on average, “which is even more rapid than transit trucks that travel the same route.”
The ceremony held to welcome the train at Tehran railroad station on Monday was attended, in addition to Pourseyyed Aqai, by ambassadors of China, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan in Iran.
The Iranian official, who is also deputy minister of road and transportation, said the train’s route will not end in Tehran and will continue to Europe.
“After inauguration of the freight railroad from China to Europe, more goods will be transited through Iran to European countries and this will increase the Islamic Republic’s transit revenue,” he added.
The freight train started off from China’s trading hub of Yiwu on January 28.
In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping introduced the new "Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Maritime Silk Road" initiative to connect stronger logistics networks with Asia, Africa and Europe by building more roads, railways and airports.
Beijing has launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) with USD 100 billion in capital and the New Silk Road Fund with a capital of USD 40 billion to finance major infrastructure projects in the region, including those pertaining to the development of the New Silk Road.
Iran is strategically-located in the Middle East, sharing land borders with seven nations, and sea channels on its northern and southwestern parts. China sees Iran as a country that can play a crucial role in New Silk Road initiative given its access to extensive delivery routes connecting to the Middle East and Eurasia.
Tehran has already pledged to support the New Silk Road initiative with an investment of USD 6 billion for the next six years, the Chinese media have reported.