TEUs increase boosts Europe-Asia intermodal alliance
An intermodal alliance promoting rail freight along the Europe-Asia corridor has seen huge increases in TEU (twenty foot equivalent unit) movements in the first quarter of the year. The United Transport and Logistics Company (UTLC), also known as the Eurasian Rail Alliance, is made up of the national railway operators of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Its core aim is to consolidate and develop existing and new overland routes connecting Europe and Asia, in particular facilitating more possibilities for the fast-growing overland trading route between Europe and China, which has recently seen key developments such as the first direct train to and from London.
UTLC says that its partners moved 30,600 TEUs along the Dostyk-Altynkol route (eastern Kazakhstan, near the border with China) and Brest (Belarus) to Dostyk the first three months of this year, up 140 per cent from 12,800 TEUs in the corresponding period in 2016. In March it moved more than 12,000 TEUs, up from 5,000 the previous month.
The alliance comprises JSC Russian Railways, the National Union Belarusian Railway and JSC National Company Kazakhstan Temir Zholy. Alexey Grom, President of UTLC, said: “Despite the Chinese New Year celebrations, which normally cause decline in demand for transportation in the first months of a year, quarter one volumes are close to the result of quarter four last year, when 36,600 TEUs were transported, and even exceed the quarter three results at 29,900 TEUs.”
“We are very grateful to our customers and partners for joining efforts with us to maintain the record volume growth rates achieved in the second half of 2016 and first quarter of 2017,” added Grom. “It is the best proof of unity of the transportation participants’ goals, high degree of responsibility and positive cooperation based on partnership and trust.”
UTLC’s shareholders last month agreed on a set of principles for the future development of the alliance, underpinning its operating model, with the Dostyk-Altynkol-Brest-Dostyk routes being designated as its principal container route. UTLC said the ‘transparency’ of the model and public disclosure of its tariff policy was an important step in boosting the confidence of potential transporters.
Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, said UTLC, had a ‘long tradition’ of successful cooperation in the railway industry, and that the new partnership was one such example – an alliance of equal partners, creating a new quality of railway transport services at high speed.