The days of thinking Amersham is far-flung are over. There's now a direct train between Barking and Yiwu in China. If you're struggling to picture such a thing, the train goes from here...
For now, it's freight only (socks, mainly). But in these times of international uncertainty and over-stuffed transport, could it be that Londoners start using the train themselves? For the sake of this piece, we're going to say yes. Here's what could happen:
China becomes part of zone 833... special fares apply
TfL teams up with China Railway, and the District line gets a whopping great extension. Upminster is no longer the end of the line, Zhejiang Province is.
How would that work for TfL passengers? The distance between the centre of London (Charing Cross, zone 1) and Amersham (zone 9) is approximately 30 miles. Given that Yiwu is around 7,500 miles away, that puts it in approximately zone 833.
As for cost, a zone 1 to zone 9 single on the current network is this:
As the station in Yiwu is approximately 7,500 miles from Barking, the journey to would cost between £1,025-£2,125 (8626¥-17875¥) for a single. Not cheap, but you'd have to pay less rent, because you'd be sleeping for 18 nights on the train.
By the way, if you stop off for a wee in Kazakhstan, for the love of god, remember to touch the pink Oyster reader.
Southern is taken over by China Railway
Let's say the above happens (it will, it will). Suddenly the other rail companies that operate inside London would be quaking in their boots. Goodbye Southern — hello China Railway.
We know what you're thinking: London to China is more of an eastern route than a southern one. OK, but at least this train will be moving.
Seems we've been arguing for the wrong thing all along... we don't want our railways nationalised... we want them INTERnationalised.
Hipsters move out to Yiwu Village
With London branching out, it's only a matter of time before cash-strapped Londoners decant to Yiwu. Not only is the average house price for a one-bedroom apartment here £118 a month, it's home to a legendary socks market.
Of course, hipsters love a good sock, and before long, they'd be moving out to Yiwu en masse. That's when you get the glossy marketing website: "Yiwu Village: affordable housing on the fringes of London, with a comfortable commute."
Before you know it, Yiwu's overrun with Boxparks, and the closest affordable London flat is in Alaska.
Maybe it wasn't a great idea after all.