The development of land transport corridors in the UEE – Valdai Club
Russian railways pay special attention to the diversification of transit routes and the creation of new transport corridors. For example, in the Central Asian region, besides Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan is starting to play an increasingly important role in the development of Euro-Asian transit. This is reflected in the active development of rail infrastructure, as well as in the search for new logistics solutions and new routes, writes Anton Kozlov, Head of Foreign Projects and Department of International Cooperation at JSC Russian Railways, speaker at the first session of the Valdai Club conference “Russia and Central Asia facing the challenges of the new world – a common path to the future “.
The Covid-19 pandemic has become a major challenge for all types of transport. At the same time, rail transport has shown its reliability and efficiency despite the existing restrictions. At the end of 2020, the loading volume of the Russian rail network decreased by only 2.7% and amounted to 1.2 billion tons, and for some items (construction cargo, grain, fertilizer), a positive increase was obtained. Container traffic on the Russian rail network reached record indicators (5.8 million TEUs, + 15.9% compared to 2019).
The predominance of income from freight traffic (around 70%) in the holding’s income has allowed the company to feel relatively confident in the midst of the crisis.
Of course, the main consequences of the epidemiological restrictions were manifested in the dynamics of passenger traffic. Over the year, Russian railways carried 872 million passengers (-27.2% compared to 2019), recovering from a 4-fold drop in traffic during lockdowns last year. Taking into account the adaptation to the epidemiological situation, we are working to restore passenger traffic. In particular, at the end of April this year, our high-speed rail link with Belarus was re-established. Since April 30, the Lastochka trains have transported more than 22,000 people between Moscow and Minsk.
The renewal of rolling stock continues. Design solutions emphasizing personal passenger space received positive reviews. Plans for this year are to start using new cars to transport people to southern Russia.
Key factors for survival in the pandemic have been the readiness of the IT infrastructure for remote working, government support, maximum use of the company’s medical infrastructure, and new programs adjusted for working with clients, which have been developed over the years. .
Russian railways firmly retain the status of a land transport bridge connecting the economic centers of Europe and Asia with the use of modern infrastructure. The demand for these services under current conditions has only increased – the volume of container freight in transit, taking into account transport under new logistics schemes, reached 830,900 TEUs (+ 34.4% compared to to 2019), including along the most active route, China – Europe – China, 592,000 TEU (+ 54.2% compared to 2019). The share of container traffic in the transit structure in 2020 increased by 10 percentage points from 20 to 30%, mainly due to the growth in traffic between East Asia and Europe.
By 2024, under instructions from President Vladimir Putin, Russian Railways plans to reach the level of 1.7 million TEUs in container transit through its network.
The main advantages of Russian railways are efficiency, speed and regularity of shipments. We have added more favorable economic conditions than, for example, those of maritime operators. In addition, rail transport is more environmentally friendly, accounting for only 1% of the world’s harmful CO2 emissions.
The Russian Railways daily create the conditions to strengthen a stable upward trend in the field of Russian and international traffic transport. The introduction of the latest technologies and the development of infrastructures are ensured in both linear and legal terms; both digitally and via logistics.
The strengthening of integration processes within the EAEU makes it possible to form a single Eurasian transport and logistics product in the so-called “1520” area, the main advantages of which are a balanced tariff policy, harmonized transport rules, ‘no additional overhead due to a unified track gauge, end-to-end traffic schedules and no need for customs operations within the EAEU.
For more than a quarter of a century, the coordination of all major organizational matters has been successfully carried out within the framework of the Rail Transport Council of the CIS Member States.
Digital solutions will determine the future of trans-Eurasian rail services. For the digitization of freight transport, efforts are underway to create a single digital space using end-to-end information technologies and the transition to electronic document management. Steps are being taken to develop electronic interaction with control authorities, to improve the regulatory framework, including the wider use of unified consignment notes in accordance with the CIM / Agreement on the International Carriage of Goods by Rail . Work continues to promote INTERTRAN information technology and expand the geography of the project.
Particular attention is paid to the diversification of transit routes and the creation of new transport corridors. For example, in Central Asia, together with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan is beginning to play an increasingly important role in the development of Euro-Asian transit. This is reflected in the active development of rail infrastructure, as well as the search for new logistics solutions and new routes. At present, the Russian Railways, together with colleagues from Uzbekistan, are studying the possibility of participating in a number of projects in Central Asia. Traditionally, Russian Railways have had successful cooperation with Kyrgyzstan Railways.
In conclusion, it is important to note that today, functional and multiple railway arteries are a necessary basis for the balanced development of national economies, allowing them to neutralize the effects of “black swans”. Railways contribute to greater resilience of economies and societies by facilitating access to markets, increasing territorial connectivity and meeting the needs of the population for fast and comfortable transport.