Freight train in Belarus, source: Belarusian Railway

Belarusian Railway develops electronic document for New Silk Road

Belarusian Railway is moving ahead in the digitalisation of freight transport. After the success in implementing electronic documents for the transit of empty wagons from Russia to Latvia or Lithuania, the state-owned company plans to extend this to the entire New Silk Road.

Belarusian Railway considers that such innovation will improve rail transport of containers running from China to Europe and back. “We are faced with the task to replace the paper documents within the transportation process with electronic ones. The digital document created at the departure station should pass all the borders and be delivered to the consignee in the same form without transforming into paper”, said Gennady Glevicky, deputy chief engineer of Belarusian Railway. However, he did not mention the exact terms for launching the electronic documents.

Currently, the vast majority of rail freight transportation on the New Silk Road still requires the use of paper documents. It creates additional obstacles for shippers and complicates the transportation process. “We work in a large area from China to the EU market. On this stretch, the cargo passes through several borders with completely different laws. The shipping documents follow the cargo, they are passed from hand to hand, reprinted and translated from language to language”, explained the manager of Belarusian Railway.

Initial developments

Belarusian Railway has already implemented some digital solutions. In 2015 the railway company launched a specialised information system called ‘electronic transportation’. It allows the customers to use electronic documents for operations within Belarus.

A year on, Belarusian Railway started to apply electronic documents for transit operations with empty freight wagons running from Kaliningrad to mainland Russia via Lithuania and Belarus. In December 2018 the same option was launched for the transit of empty wagons going from Russia to Latvia via Belarus. Belarusian Railway also uses electronic documents for operations with empty freight wagons running directly from Belarus to both Lithuania and Latvia.

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Author: Mykola Zasiadko

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

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