Russia-China train. Photo: RZD

Russia tests new container train to China via Mongolia

Russian Railways (RZD) is testing a new container service from Yekaterinburg in Russia to the Chinese city of Erlianhot (Erenhot) via the territory of neighbouring Mongolia. The new service is expected to improve connection between Russia and China.

The 62-high-cube-container train departed from the Yekaterinburg-Tovarnyi station. On 25 October, it arrived at Naushki station on the Russian-Mongolian border. From here it continued its journey through Mongolia. “Currently, export of lumber and minerals, chemical and metallurgical products most frequently occurs in containers via Vladivostok, and then goods are carried by sea to the different ports in China – Shanghai, Qingdao, Tianjin, Dalian, Ningbo, Guangzhou (the journey takes about sixty days). The direct rail link from Yekaterinburg via Naushki to Erlian (Erenhot) and further across China will reduce the delivery time with approximately half – up to 25 days,” Russian Railways reported.

Mongolia as a transit hub

Mongolia is becoming an important country on the New Silk Road. For both Russia and China the Asian country is a transit hub for their container trains. The new train from Yekaterinburg may become the second one being launched from the Russian city to China via Mongolia. On 25 June, a container train with 41 40-foot containers departed from the Chinese city of Ulanqab, 350 km south of Erlianhot. It was organised by TransContainer and its Chinese partner – Modern Way Cross Border Logistics. Several trains have been operated on this route, delivering products in just thirteen days.

In 2016, Russia and China signed an agreement to increase the rail freight volumes between the countries and to establish the China – Mongolia – Russia economic corridor. Besides container trains from China to Russia, there are several routes to European countries. Thus, on June 2017, Far East Land Bridge (FELB), a subsidiary of RZD Logistics launched a container train from the Chinese city of Changsha to Dobra terminal in Slovakia via Mongolia. Moreover, on September 2017 the Weihai – Hamburg container service was established with a transit run via Mongolia.

Mongolian Vector

It is worth noting that from March 2002 there has been a regular container train “Mongolian Vector” running between Brest, Belarus and Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. It was launched by Brest Branch of State Enterprise “BTLC” (Belarus), “Rubicon” CJSC (Russia) and “Tuushin” LLC (Mongolia). It makes the 7,293-kilometre journey in 10-12 days. From March 2002 to March 2017 the “Mongolian Vector” train has carried 13,010 TEUs.

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Author: Mykola Zasiadko

Mykola Zasiadko is editor of online trade magazines RailTech.com and RailFreight.com.

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