UTLC rail alliance and Asstra sign containers deal
A rail alliance promoting the Eurasian freight corridors has signed an agreement with international shipping giant Asstra to ship containers between China and Europe via the railways of Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus and the EU.
The United Transport and Logistics Company (UTLC), which comprises the national railway operators of Russia, Belarus & Kazakhstan, and Asstra say they will build a relationship based on a ‘strategic’ international rail freight partnership. UTLC will be responsible for establishing and operating a terminal-to-terminal 1520 mm gauge rail transit service, while Asstra’s role is to attract customers to UTLC’s basic U West and U East services.
Dimitry Lagun, President of the board of AsstrA Associated Traffic AG, said: “AsstrA has been developing the New Silk Road since 2008, but in the beginning there were only sporadic shipments. Since 2015 we have been managing a steady flow of rail cargo to East Asia. A sore point has been the lack of collaboration and integration between the railways of the different countries, and UTLC seeks to fix that. It integrates the railways of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan for cargo delivery from China and the rest of Asia to Europe and back. Therefore we see mutual synergy between our companies.”
Asstra currently operates in 16 countries across Europe, Asia and the former Soviet states which make up the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) region, and operates 1,200 rail services every year.