Russian railways

The geographical position of the Trans-Siberian Railway


The Trans-Siberian Railway is a major double-track electrified railway line equipped with modern means of information and communication. At 10,000 km, it is the world's longest railway line and a natural extension of International Transport Corridor No. 2.

In the east, the Trans-Siberian provides access to the railway networks of North Korea, China and Mongolia via the border stations Khasan, Grodekovo, Zabaykalsk and Naushki.

In the west, it can access European countries via Russian ports and border crossings with the former republics of the Soviet Union.

The Main Line passes through 20 subjects of the Russian Federation and five federal districts. These resource-rich regions have considerable export and import potential. The regions served by the line produce more than 65% of the coal produced in Russia and handle almost 20% of the country's oil refining and 25% of its commercial timber. More than 80% of Russia's industrial potential and main natural resources are located in these regions, including oil, gas, coal, timber, ferrous and non-ferrous metal ores and others. 87 cities are located along the Trans-Siberian, including 14 which are the centres of subjects of the Russian Federation.

The Trans-Siberian Railway carries more than 50% of Russia's foreign trade and transit freight.

The Trans-Siberian Main Line has also been included as a priority route between Europe and Asia in projects of international organisations, namely the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the Organisation for Co-operation between Railways (OSJD).

Advantages of transportation on the Trans-Siberian compared to the sea route

  • Reduces the shipping time of goods by more than 2-fold: container trains from China to Finland via the Trans-Siberian take less than 10 days, while the journey by sea is 28 days.
  • Low levels of political risk: up to 90% of the route passes through the territory of the Russian Federation, a state with a stable and democratic system of government, a stable political climate and steadily growing economy.
  • Minimises the number of cargo transshipments, thus reducing the costs of cargo dispatchers and eliminating the risk of accidental damage to goods during handling.

At the moment, a significant part of East - West cargo flows go by sea. A dominant position or near monopoly of shippers in this direction mean that freight dispatchers can expect any reduction in the transport component of their overall costs. Against this background, rail transport is a reasonable economic alternative to sea transport.

The main container train routes along the Trans-Siberian Railway

  • Nakhodka-Vostochnaya Station – Martsevo station (delivery of components from Hyundai Motors Co. from Busan to the car assembly plant in Taganrog).
  • Nakhodka – Moscow.
  • Nakhodka – Brest.
  • Zabaykalsk/Nakhodka – Kaliningrad/Klaipeda.
  • Beijing – Moscow.
  • Kaliningrad/Klaipeda – Moscow (Mercury).
  • Helsinki – Moscow (Northern Lights).
  • Berlin – Moscow (East Wind).
  • Brest – Ulan Bator (Mongolian Vector – 1).
  • Hohhot – Duisburg (Mongolian Vector – 2).
  • Baltic countries – Kazakhstan/Central Asia (Baltic - Transit ).
  • Nakhodka – Alma Ata/Uzbekistan.
  • Brest – Alma Ata (Kazakhstani Vector).


  • The use of modern information technologies ensures complete control over train movement and informs customers in real time about the location, tracking along the whole route and the arrival of containers and cargo at any destination in Russia.
  • Using electronic technology for the declaration of goods: this has reduced the time for cargo inspections from 3 days to just 1.5 hours.
  • Simplified procedures which enable all the containers on container trains to be shipped under a single transport document. This customs practice is now used when transporting components from South Korea to the car assembly plant in Taganrog.
  • Using advanced technology at commercial inspection points which are equipped with modern equipment for monitoring the status of wagons and containers on trains.
  • Monitoring the security and integrity of goods en route.

Prospects for the Trans-Siberian Railway

The Government of the Russian Federation and Russian Railways have developed and implemented a series of measures to further increase the transit potential of the entire transport corridor between Europe and the Asia-Pacific region based around the Trans-Siberian, namely:

  • implementing large-scale investment projects in the eastern part of the Trans-Siberian Railway to ensure the growth of rail transportation and transit between Russia and China;
  • carrying out the necessary development of railway stations on the border with Mongolia, China and North Korea;
  • enhancing the approaches to seaports;
  • modernising container terminals in accordance with international standards.
  • conducting the comprehensive reconstruction of the stretch between Karymskaya – Zabaykalsk to handle increasing volumes of freight traffic to China (mainly oil).

In accordance with the "Development Strategy for Rail Transport in the Russian Federation until 2030", it is planned that the Trans-Siberian will concentrate on specialised container trains and passenger traffic.

The Coordinating Council on Trans-Siberian Transportation (CCTT), together with Russian Railways, is preparing a concept for Trans-Siberian transport up to 2020. The concept provides for:

  • the formation of a systematic approach to the development of Trans-Siberian container transportation by rail, across maritime areas and at ports with freight forwarding associations in Europe, Russia, South Korea, Japan and Austria, as well as with freight forwarding companies;
  • the development and application of competitive tariffs for the transportation of foreign and transit freight, taking into account the directions of cargo flows and the conditions of freight transportation on alternative routes;
  • the further improvement of the technology and organisation of transit and foreign freight on the Trans-Siberian route (TSR);
  • the improvement of the conditions and principles of joint activities between railways, shipping companies, ports, freight forwarders and operators and members of the CCTT in order to attract freight to the TSR;
  • ensuring a high quality of service in order to attract traffic to the TSR by internationally coordinating the activities of the participants in Trans-Siberian freight (observing delivery deadlines, maintaining cargo integrity and security);
  • information support of the transportation process along the TSR (providing clients with information in real time about the progress of cargo to its destination);
  • increasing the processing capacity of ports in east and west Russia;
  • creating modern logistics centres with warehouse complexes at the Moscow hub, other industrial centres and in the Far East;
  • the further development of transport links between the countries of Asia, Russia, the CIS, Central and Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and the Baltic States.