First Silk Road train arrives in Tehran from China

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The first train connecting China and Iran has arrived in the Iranian capital city Tehran loaded with Chinese goods, as part of an attempted revival of the ancient Silk Road, a trans-Asian trade route connecting the east to Europe and the Mediterranean Sea.

The 32-container train, which arrived in Tehran on Monday,  had started its journey from China’s eastern Zhejiang province and it took 14 days to reach final destination. The train had covered around 6,462 mile (10,399km) at an average of more than 700km a day and passed through two Central Asian countries Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

The ultimate aim behind this initiative is to extend the rail route to Europe, positioning Iran on a key stretch to the continent. Henceforth such trains passing through ancient Silk Road, will run between both countries once in a month and frequency may increase as per the need. These train service will be provided by private companies using existing routes.

Advantages of reviving the ancient Silk route 

► The revival of the ancient Silk Road will play crucial role in realising the China’s ambitious One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative. This will reduce the overall Transportation cost as the journey through train was 30 days shorter than the sea voyage from Shanghai to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.

► China is Iran’s biggest trading partner and accounts for one third of its foreign trade, further this rail route will boost bilateral trade between both countries as Chinese President Xi Jinping and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had agreed last month to build economic ties worth up to 600 billion dollars within the next 10 years. 

Strategic importance

► The location of Iran is strategically important as it is in the Middle East (West Asia) and shares land borders with 8 nations i.e, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan. It also has sea channels on its northern and south-western coasts.

► By connencting Iran through revived Silk Road China will leverage Iran’s strategic location  to get access to extensive delivery routes connecting to the Eurasia and Middle East.

About Silk Road

The Silk Road or Silk Route  is an ancient network of commercial land and sea routes, named for the lucrative Chinese silk trade.  This trade route was central  to cultural interaction and business across the Asian continent connecting China with the Mediterranean Sea. Trade on the Silk Road was a significant factor in the development of the civilizations of China, the Indian subcontinent, Persia, Europe, the Horn of Africa and Arabia.

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