Volvo has begun shipping its China-built S90 sedans to Europe by train under China’s new ‘One Belt, One Road’ trade initiative, making it the first automaker to do so via the rail route.

The first S90 premium sedans, which were built at the Swedish automaker’s plant in Daqing, China, will arrive at a distribution centre in Zeebrugge, Belgium this week, having travelled by rail on the recently-opened China-Europe railway link.

The automaker says that the land connection brings down the time it takes to transport vehicles to Europe by two thirds compared to a sea-going route. It adds that beyond shorter waiting times for customers, rail is also a better choice in terms of the environmental impact of transportation, with CO2 emissions reduced by a third by choosing rail over sea transport.

Each of the Volvo-dedicated trains traveling between Daqing and Zeebrugge carry around 120 Volvo cars, which are transported in specially-designed containers. One container holds three cars at different angles in order to maximise the use of space available inside, and special fixtures ensure that the cars are fastened during transport and do not move.

Initially, trains will depart from Daqing once a week, but the company says it plans to increase this frequency, in line with growing volumes.

Last November, Volvo started building high-end versions of its S90 premium sedan in Daqing for global exports, and will soon be building all S90 variants at Daqing for global export.