The 30 container freight train will pass through France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan

The first direct train from the UK to China has departed on its 7,500-mile journey.

The BBC reports that the freight train service that transports British goods such as soft drinks, vitamins and baby products will take 17 days to arrive.

Three months ago, the freight service arrived in the UK from China.

Consisting of 30 containers, the DP World locomotive departed from Stanford-le-Hope, Essex and is set to arrive in Yiwu, Zhejiang province on 27 April.

The train will pass through the Channel Tunnel, passing through France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan.

According to the operators, delivering goods by train is cheaper than by air and faster than by sea.

The train service is part of China’s “one belt, one road” program, which revives the ancient Silk Road trading routes that date back over 2000 years. Chairman of Yiwu Timex Industrial Investment Co Xubin Feng said the restoration of the Silk Road route was “an important and exciting initiative”.

“We have great faith in the UK as an export nation and rail provides an excellent alternative for moving large volumes of goods over long distances faster,” he added.

UK international trade minister Greg Hands said the rail link “shows the huge global demand for quality UK goods”.

DP World chief executive Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem said it was a “significant trade occasion”.

Owner of Dr Sam Beatson from KCL’s Lau China Institute described the train route as a “diplomatic success”.