VIENNA, March 18, 2019 — The transit potential of railways in Asia and Europe was the main topic of discussion at the plenary session of International Railway Congress 2019 in Vienna today.
“The main idea behind the One Belt, One Road initiative is building the infrastructure needed to supply Chinese goods to the European Union. This initiative involves about 100 countries. For Russian railway workers, this is an opportunity to increase their share in the growing market for Eurasian transit,” said CEO and Chairman of the Board of Russian Railways Oleg Belozyorov. He recalled that total volume of trade with China amounted to about $5 trillion. The railways in Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union traditionally play the role of a “land bridge” connecting largest economies of Europe and Asia.
“A few years ago, we could only speculate that around 600,000 containers would travel through Russia. As of now, this has been achieved. We have seen an increase of an additional 30% from the previous year. We could reach 2 million TEU a year or more,” said Mr. Belozyorov.
To achieve this, Russian Railways, is planning to reduce time it takes to transport containers from the Far East to the western border of Russia to seven days. The implementation of large-scale infrastructure projects for BAM reconstruction and Trans-Siberian Railway, which will increase the speed of container trains from 1,150 to 1,500 km per day, is envisaged.
The construction of 1520-mm-gauge Košice–Bratislava–Vienna line is very important. “This project will bring the work of the railways to a new level. We will try new technologies to speed up border crossings and unifying legal issues. We need to focus our attention to ensure that it takes place as soon as possible,” said Mr. Belozyorov.
He also named several important joint initiatives to increase transit traffic.
“It is important for us to have a unified regulatory framework. Much has been done as part of the International Union of Railways, but more work is necessary. We need to quickly cross borders. We can cover long distances quickly, but the cargo sits at the border under customs clearance two whole days,” he said.
Another key aspect, is digital technologies: “Tools such as blockchain and smart contracts can allow us to make decisions in a matter of seconds and save billions of dollars.”
SOURCE JSC Russian Railways (RZD)