Russian container train near Lake Baikal, source: Russian Railways (RZD)

New route on the New Silk Road through Russia

The month of July marked two milestones on the Russian part of the New Silk Road. A new route through Russia was launched, and dedicated trains for the shipment of empty containers have been setup. Both are leading to a significant increase in rail freight volumes between Europe and China.

This was reported by United Transport and Logistics Company – Eurasian Rail Alliance Joint-Stock Company (UTLC ERA, a joint venture of Belarusian, Kazakh and Russian railways). This company ships the majority of the Europe-China freight volumes via the northern route. In July 2020, these volumes amounted to 54.2 thousand TEU, which is 76 per cent more than in the same period last year.

Ozinki-Semiglavy border crossing

The July record height was, among other things, thanks to a new train route through the Ozinki-Semiglavy Mar border crossing point between Russia and Kazakhstan. “This route was approved last month, with the traffic capacity of the transit corridor growing by three more train pairs per day”, the company says.

“Besides, a technology allowing shipping train sets of up to 114 conditional railcars was agreed to transport empty railcars. This technology was also successfully tested in July to become an important tool for further improvement of traffic efficiency.” The shipment of empty containers has been an obstacle since the beginning of the New Silk Road, as the freight volumes shipped to the west are higher than the eastbound volumes. This results in a lack of containers in China.

Passing 500,000 TEUs

In July, the transportation of loaded containers from Europe grew by 80 per cent up to 15 thousand TEUs. Loaded containers shipped from China doubled making up 36 thousand TEU. Both are figures based on the performance of UTLC ERA.

The total traffic handled by the company amounted to 277.6 thousand TEUs in the first seven months of this year. This shows a 67 per cent growth from the same period last year. “Our key objective for August and subsequent periods will be keeping the achieved growth dynamics and building reserves to increase traffic capacity of our transit corridor. We have a very high level of communication with our partners and clients and we are eager to pass the 500,000 TEUs milestone at our corridor following the 2020 results”, commented Alexey Grom, CEO of UTLC ERA.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is editor of, online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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