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A passenger train to link Shanghai and Antwerp is in the works

Also with stops in Beijing, Ulaanbaatar, Moscow, Brussels and nine other cities

Photograph: Skitterphoto, CC0
If you're someone who swoons at the thought of taking a long train ride around the world and possibly solving a murder mystery in the process, or at the very least you hate flying, here's a bit of news for you.

According to Xinhua, a number of organisations and state institutions inked a deal in Belgium on Thursday to link Shanghai and Antwerp (Belgium) by passenger rail. The rail will have ten stops between the terminal cities, with Beijing, Ulaanbaatar, Moscow and Brussels being named so far. They're calling it 'Diamond Silk Road'.

There are already freight rail line that connect Shanghai and Europe, and there are feasible itineraries that can get you from Shanghai to Europe over several trains, but a single passenger train from Shanghai and Antwerp will be a first and perhaps the world's longest free trade pipeline.

No word yet on when this extremely long train ride will begin service, how much it will cost nor is there any official statement on how long this ride would take, but let's do some rough math on that latter matter. Shanghai to Beijing is already five hours on the fastest train. Beijing to Moscow along the Trans-Siberian but at that fastest train speed (400km/h) would take about 19 hours. Moscow to Antwerp along existing train routes but at 400km/h would take about six hours.

So, maybe 30 hours altogether, assuming the train holds steady at a top speed which is achievable (but unsafe at the moment), and not accounting for other transit delays – so probably more. Let's guess 35. A non-direct flight from Shanghai to Antwerp takes 22-28 hours, depending on the route. All things considered and not considered, ~35 hours on a train isn't that much worse than 22-28 hours on a plane, and it's much easier to do murder mysteries on a train. This Antwerp-Shanghai train could make a pretty special holiday route, if they pull it off.

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