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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 January 2008, 12:22 GMT
Germany-China rail freight plan
Railway yard in China
The new rail service could be up and running in early 2009
A new rail freight service between Germany and China, that would be twice as quick as sea travel, has been backed by six countries, Chinese media says.

The China Daily state newspaper says China, Mongolia, Russia, Belarus, Poland and Germany are to work together on the Hamburg to Beijing train route.

The states are to ease customs and border checks to minimise travel time.

China Railway Container Transport said the 20-day-long freight journeys should start in early 2009.

"Barring any complications, a scheduled container train should be shuttling between China and Germany in a year's time," said the firm's chairman Zheng Mingli.

A trial run is under way, with a container train taking a sample of Chinese products to the north German city.

After it arrives the six countries will analyse ways to improve the rail route, including easing customs barriers, and integrating different railway types.

Moving goods by sea between the two cities usually takes 40 days and means passing through the Indian Ocean, which adds an additional 10,000km to the journey.

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