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Trans-Siberian Railway

Trans-Siberian Railway

Brief Description of the Corridor

Major cities en route

In Russia: Kaliningrad, Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Smolensk, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, Astana, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk  Chita, Khabarovsk, Vostochny, Vladivostok.

Beyond Russia: Helsinki, Berlin, Warsaw, Minsk, Kiev, Budapest, Ulaanbaatar, Beijing, Pyongyang, Seoul, Pusan.

Other countries on the corridor Russia, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Hungary.

Built between 1890 and 1905 to connect Moscow with Vladivostok on Russia’s Pacific coast 6,560 miles (10,555 km) away, the Trans-Siberian is probably one of the most famous and romantic railway lines in world. You can not only admire Siberia’s spectacular scenery from the train in summer or winter, but also stop off anywhere en route. Relax at the tranquil and beautiful Lake Baikal, the largest body of fresh water in the world, explore the Buddhist monasteries of Ulan-Ude and enjoy the views of the Pacific from Vladivostok. Nowadays, the Trans-Siberian route also has connections to Berlin, Kiev, Budapest, Helsinki and Beijing.

Far less well-known is the role of the Trans-Siberian as a major freight artery offering a fully developed container service across Eurasia from Berlin to Beijing, with links to major cities in Europe, including Helsinki, Kaliningrad, Warsaw, Minsk, Kiev, St Petersburg, Smolensk and Yekaterinburg. And in addition to Russian stations in Siberia itself, the Trans-Sib also has connections to Astana in Kazakhstan, Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia, Beijing in China, Pyongyang in North Korea and Seoul and Pusan in South Korea.

To attract freight to the Trans-Siberian route the International Coordinating Council on Trans-Siberian Transportation was formed.

Advantages of the Trans-Siberian compared to sea

  • reduces by nearly two-thirds the time for cargo shipments: containers from China to Finland on the Trans-Siberian take less than 10 days, compared to 28 days by sea;
  • low level of political risk: up to 90% of the route passes through Russia – a state with a stable democratic system of government, stable political climate and steadily growing economy;
  • minimises the need for transshipment, thus reducing the cost of cargo and the risk of accidental damage to goods during handling.

At the moment, a major part of the freight between East and West goes by sea. The dominant or near monopoly position of marine shipping companies means shippers cannot expect a reduction of their transport costs. Rail transport offers a reasonable economical alternative to shipment by sea.

Service

Modern information technology enables:

  • full monitoring of trains and the status of cars and containers;
  • customers to follow their consignments in real time, ascertain their current location along the whole route and know when their containers and cargo arrive at every destination in Russia;
  • commercial inspection of items;
  • electronic goods declaration, thus reducing freight inspection times from 3 days to 1.5 hours;
  • all containers on each train to be listed in one transport document;
  • monitoring the security of goods in transit.

Prospects

In order to increase further the transit capacity of the international transport corridor between Europe and the Asia-Pacific region based on the Trans-Siberian, the Russian government and Russian Railways are developing and implementing the following measures:

  • large-scale investment projects in the eastern part of the Trans-Siberian to ensure the growth of rail transportation and transit between Russia and China;
  • necessary development of railway stations on the border with Mongolia, China and North Korea. This is now complete;
  • enhanced approaches to seaports;
  • modernizing and upgrading container terminals to international standards;
  • a comprehensive reconstruction of the Karymskaya - Zabaikalsk is underway to provide increasing volumes of cargo transportation to China (especially oil).

By 2015, Russian Railways plans to send about 50 billion roubles on upgrading the Trans-Siberian.

The Coordinating Council on Trans-Siberian Transportation (CCTT) and Russian Railways are preparing a concept for Trans-Siberian traffic down to 2020 which provides for:

  • a systematic approach to the development of Trans-Siberian container traffic by rail and in sea areas and ports, in cooperation with forwarding associations in Europe, Russia, South Korea, Japan and Austria, and also forwarding companies;
  • the development and implementation of competitive tariffs for the shipment of foreign trade and transit goods, taking into account the directions of freight flows and the conditions for shipping freight cargo by alternative routes;
  • further improvements to the technology and organisation of transit trade and goods on the Trans-Siberian route;
  • improving the conditions and principles of the joint activities of railways, shipping companies, port operators, freight forwarders and members of the CCTT to attract cargo to the Trans-Siberian;
  • high quality service to attract cargo to the Trans-Siberian by coordinating internationally the activity of those involved in Trans-Siberian freight traffic;
  • information to customers in real time on the movement of goods to their destination;
  • increasing the processing capacity of ports in east and west Russia;
  • setting up modern logistics centres with storage facilities;
  • the further development of transport links between Asia, Russia, CIS and Central and Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and the Baltics.
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