Part of the Belt and Road Initiative, the China Railway Express is the world’s longest rail journey and the first direct link between China and Spain in history.
That’s where this rail line is bringing the “taste of Spain” directly to the dinner tables of China. There have been vineyards on these rolling hills since the days of the Roman Empire.
Wine and the Ancient traditions of Spain inextricably linked. The methods of planting and meticulously maintaining the vineyards, defer to history.
Daniel Perez, Supervisor – Vina Pedrosa Vineyard;
“As you can see, all the work is done by hand. We like to do it in the traditional way. It’s better than modern machines.”
But change has been coming down the track fast. China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a trillion dollar adventure in trading connections first arrived in Madrid four years ago and has been doing business ever since.
It’s the China Railway Express, offering a new way of carrying valuable Spanish delicacies to the dinner tables of China’s burgeoning middle classes. For traders, like Zhou Fuqiang here selling wine, olive oil and Spanish ham, the world of international commerce has just got smaller.
Zhou Fuqiang Sinodmb Ltd.;
“They introduced us to a new way, is the new railway from Spain to China directly. They say it’s two weeks, it’s faster than before, so that surprised me. I think I will try that way.”
Crossing continents and time zones, a major advantage of the 10,000 kilometre rail route is speed. Twice as fast as sending goods by sea. Not as quick as by air, but five times cheaper.
It’s the maritime route, though, that holds the trump card for cost and so far that’s worked against the China Railway Express. In the vineyards of Vina Pedrosa, the sales director told me business remains hugely price sensitive.
Juan de La Vega Meiland, Vina Pedrosa Vineyard;
“Prices are very important. When you’re negotiating here in the winery or some other products, the final transport costs are also very important. So, if they get the same price for the ship and the train, it will be a real option.”
However, when China’s President Xi Jinping met Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez last November, it was made clear the remarkable China Railway Express was in for the long haul.
Richard Bestic Burgos, Spain
“It’s the potential that the Rail link offers producers here that is found to be exciting. But it’ll take time to become an economic reality, and that’s what the Belt and Road project offers, time.”