On 18 November 2014, the first container block train ran from Yiwu in the coastal province of Zhejiang, East China, to Madrid, the Spanish capital. On the 13,000 kilometer journey, the train went via Xinjiang in West China through Kazakhstan-Russia-Belarus-Poland-Germany-France to Spain. So far, this has been the longest distance covered in China-Europe rail traffic.
In early 2017, another milestone was reached in the block train traffic between China and Europe, as the first test train went from China to London, UK, via the Channel Tunnel, covering a distance of 12,000 kilometers. To offer such products and to establish new routes, InterRail benefits from the good cooperation with partners of long years. On April 10, 2017, the first train left London for Yiwu.
In June 2017, the InterRail Group and JF Hillebrand, an international service provider specialized in the logistics of beer, wine and spirits, handled a test transport of French wine via rail from Duisburg, Germany, to Yiwu, China. The train crossed six countries and covered a distance of 11,400 kilometers. The data recorded (temperature, humidity, acceleration forces and differences in altitude) allowed experts an in-depth insight into the viability of this logistics solution for the beer and wine industries. One thing is clear: transporting wine in normal dry goods containers is not an option. Beer and wine have to be shipped on board a reefer, or protected by VinLiner, a protective foil specially created by JH Hillebrand. More information on the test run results upon request.
On 5 November 2016, the first test train from Yiwu was welcomed to Riga, Latvia, with an official ceremony. The InterRail Group had been commissioned by Chinese Railways affiliate CRIMT to operate the train. The container train – it carried textile goods and household appliances – covered the 11,000 kilometer distance in 13 days.
In close cooperation between the InterRail offices in China and Uzbekistan and the railway companies involved along the route, InterRail also began offering block train traffics ex China to Afghanistan in late August 2016. It took the first test train circa nine days to cover the 7,500 kilometer distance; it was routed via Alashankou / Dostyk – with trans-loading from standard to wide gauge tracks – and then through Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to the final destination.