made in China, they may have come all the way to east London by train.
China is now the world's biggest exporter of goods, and deliveries to various European cities by rail direct from Chinese cities are going to become a regular occurrence.
I'm quite sure that plenty of British companies are working on sending their goods into China in the same way. Perhaps a new era of long distance freight train journeys is dawning. Yet another headache for the border security people at the channel tunnel terminals.
The British are obsessed with shipping freight by sea or road.
As an island nation sea is understandable, but road is entirely the result of high pressure lobbying by the road haulage industry, which calls the shots in the UK.
In most other countries of the world rail and water carry by far a greater proportion of non-perishable freight.
Anyone who has travelled on the mainland will have seen that their rivers and up to date fully navigable canals are full of barge traffic, day and night.
Rail freight used to be a primary way of moving goods. In fact, many major factories had the own siding and wagons specifically for that purpose.
However, as small country, when lorries became (relatively) reliable, door to door was seen as a better option. Particularly when coupled with pretty dismal rail services (perhaps we've learned nothing!).
Never-the-less, long distance rail freight is a sensible cost effective way of shipping huge amounts relatively cheaply. I suspect it will become more commonplace in the future. But unless the internal railway unions get their act together, it's not going to happen internally. The distances covered and time taken don't make economic sense, particularly in the world of just in time deliveries.
The big problem with moving goods by sea is that it is becoming harder for the big ocean shipping companies to do it profitably. There is over-capacity in the industry - too many ships chasing the same cargo - and that results in fierce competition, tiny margins mean that an unexpected storm, or delays in loading/unloading can see the profit being eroded by extra fuel and wages costs. It costs around $2000 dollars to ship a 20 foot container full of goods from Los Angeles to London
Trains carry far less in terms of tonnage, but they are cheaper to operate. smaller crews mean lower wage costs, and trains consume less fuel per ton per mile, and need less maintenance than giant bulk container ships.
Obviously, trains are only good for trans-continental cargo traffic - China to the UK is good, but Los Angeles to London involves crossing an ocean.
A new career as a government slogan writer beckons.
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