A leading Japanese logistics company, Nippon Express, has started a test-run of a long-distance cargo train service between China's inland area and Europe.
The first train on the test run left a station in Xian in Shaanxi Province on Thursday, following an inaugural ceremony.
Nippon Express Managing Executive Officer Tatsuo Sugiyama suggested that the mass-transportation and reliability of rail service will contribute to the development of all the countries along the route.
In the test run, a train carrying 41 containers is expected to take 18 days to cover a distance of about 10,000 kilometers from Xian to Duisburg, Germany.
Nippon Express is planning to start regularly scheduled cargo train services around next March. The Japanese company says rail transport costs less than half that of air transportation, and takes only about half the time it takes by ship.
China's government of President Xi Jinping regards the rail road as a core part of China's Belt and Road Initiative, which is aimed at creating an economic zone linking China to Europe and beyond.
Japanese manufacturers operating in China are expecting that the rail link will help improve logistics for them. China is also hoping to see the rail link help more foreign firms come to do business with China.