The first Chinese freight train traveling the China Railway Express line from Xi’an, China to Europe crossed under Istanbul's Bosporus Strait Thursday morning after setting off from Ankara a day earlier.
The train crossed into Europe using Istanbul's Marmaray subsea tunnel, reaching the Kazlicesme railway station in Zeytinburnu, Istanbul.
The containers were transported in two parts, with 21 of them pulled by a locomotive of Turkish State Railways and the remainder by a Chinese locomotive.
On Wednesday Infrastructure Minister Cahit Turhan said the line, which has been in operation since Oct. 30, 2017, has reduced cargo transportation time between China and Turkey from a month to 12 days.
Turkey has become a central link in a "middle corridor", which extends between Beijing and London as well as the "Iron Silk Road" -- a rail track between Turkey and Kazakhstan, Turhan noted.
Turhan said with the integration of Marmaray in the route, transportation time between the Far East and Western Europe has been reduced to 18 days.
"The Iron Silk Road, which benefits approximately 5 billion people and 60 countries, has become a new and very important alternative for global trade networks," Turhan said.
The China Railway Express line is carrying an electronic product load equivalent to 42 tractors.
The train is traveling over two continents, 10 countries, two seas and 11,483 kilometers (7,135 miles) of road in 12 days with 42 container-loaded wagons.