"The transition to paperless interaction and open information platforms will strengthen railway transport’s market position in the Eurasian space," says Oleg Belozerov
"Russia"s transport industry needs to implement digitalisation programs as soon as possible," says Oleg Belozerov, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Russian Railways.
Belozerov was speaking during the plenary discussion "Transport – The Basis of Eurasian integration" at the International Transport of Russia Forum, which was held in Moscow on 20 November 2019.
According to Belozerov, the Board of Directors at Russian Railways has adopted a "Company Digital Transformation Strategy until 2025" – one of the first such documents in Russia.
The Strategy is based on 8 digital platforms which will have to be developed: infrastructure, transportation, freight, passengers, traction, e-commerce, transport and logistics hubs and non-production processes. Their concrete implementation will be provided within the framework of fifty-five major projects.
"The key objective of this strategy is that all platforms must be open. Everyone should feel comfortable about joining us or using our digital potential," said Oleg Belozerov.
In Belozerov’s opinion, the transition to paperless interaction and open information platforms will strengthen the market position of railway transport across the Eurasian space. The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) transport space, which makes up almost 40% of the territory of the Eurasian continent, is located between major commodity and product markets, which enables rail to play a vital role in the global supply chain between Europe and Asia.
However, there are a number of difficulties that can only be solved at governmental or intergovernmental level.
"The large number of issues that arise in Europe and other railway systems today with regard to integrating different processes – both in technology and in the decision-making system – are resolved very quickly. But when we go beyond our common space, problems come up. For example, the same invoice is filled out in different ways, with different details. We need to solve these kinds of issues regarding interaction and cooperation between different spaces in order to translate them into electronic form," said Oleg Belozerov.
According to Belozerov, in November 2019 the United Transport and Logistics Company Eurasian Railway Alliance (UTLC ERA), which is a transport integrator in the Eurasian space, launched a container service between China and Europe using a unified CIM/SMGS invoice. The invoice was used for the first time as a single transport document along the entire transcontinental route for multimodal transport by sea and rail.
UTLC ERA provides a regular, stable and high-quality service, which has already led to a severalfold increase in the volume of transit freight through Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, significantly reducing delivery times and increasing the speed. As a result, containers now cover the distance of 4,500 kilometres from the Chinese border to the border with Europe in less than 5 days. In 2018, the Russian Railways network transported 280,000 Twenty-Foot Equivalent units (TFEs) between China and Europe, with 350,000 TFEs expected in 2019.
Similar to the Maritime Transport Index, UTLC ERA has developed a Eurasian Rail Alliance Index (ERAI), which is a composite indicator of the cost of transit container shipments by the EAEU China – Europe rail corridor.
According to Oleg Belozerov, shippers who receive regular information about the value of the index have enough current, up-to-date data to decide on the method and cost of shipping container goods in between China – Europe – China.
In September 2019, the first container using INTERTRAN technology was shipped from Japan to Europe in conjunction with FESCO.
The head of Russian Railways stressed that the time for processing transport documents was reduced by four days compared to the registration of transportation on paper media only due to digital technologies and automation of operations,. Next year it is planned to replicate this technology on other shipping routes.