Thursday, September 15, 2011

High Speed Container Shipping by Rail Freight Route

Russian Infrastructure Bids to Challenge Traditional Carriers
Shipping News Feature

RUSSIA – Whilst the rest of the rail freight world whinges about the slow capabilities of cargo carrying wagons as against the High Speed rail advantages of passenger trains two subsidiaries of Russian Railways, RZD Logistics and TransContainer, are working on a joint project: express container trains. They are currently being tested on the route between Yekaterinburg and St. Petersburg.

The first experimental shipment left the rail freight depot at Yekaterinburg on the 9th September and arrived in St. Petersburg 68 hours later on the 12th September. Despite the fact the two are only around 1800 kilometres apart ‘as the crow flies’, by rail the journey entails travelling 2,300 km which means an average speed of around 34 kms/hour not, at first sight, particularly impressive. It should be remembered however that using the passenger systems the journey at best can only be covered in around half that time.

The two cities are on the Trans-Siberian route upon which RZD knows rapid transit of containers will be vital to its success if it is to compete with ocean freight routes. The route has the capability to link Berlin with Beijing and RZD openly state the importance of regular container shuttles traversing this section of the network. TransContainer director Sergei Vasiliev, speaking in Yekaterinburg, confirmed this:

“It’s very important to us that the first customers to make use of the accelerated container trains are the metallurgical industry’s biggest exporters, such as Russian Chrome 1915 (a steelmaker which supplies chromium alloys to India, China, and France), SELL and K (a major producer of non-ferrous metals, which supplies its products to Japan), Klyuchevskii Ferroalloy Plant (a company that produces ferroalloys and exports them to the Netherlands), and the Ural Nonferrous Casting Plant (an iron and steel maker which ships non-ferrous alloys to the U.S. and Japan). These companies periodically have difficulty shipping their products, however, thanks to the launch of the regular shuttle train, they will leave these difficulties in the past.”