As both, the Trans-Siberian Railway (TSR) and New Eurasian Land Bridge (NELB) railroads cross Russia, the world’s largest country plays an important part in the operation of the New Silk Road railway network. “In 2016, we increased the volume of container traffic by more than 30% and doubled the volume of the transit trade between China and Europe,” said Alexander Misharin, CEO of Russian Railways.
One railway company deserves a closer look because it is a great example of cross-border collaboration on the New Eurasian Land Bridge. JSC UTLC is set up as a joint company of JSC Russian Railways, the National Union Belarusian Railway, and JSC National Company in Kazakhstan Temir Zholy. This alliance of equal partners in creating a new quality of railway transport services.
By ensuring high transport speeds throughout the three countries along the NELB corridor, JSC UTLC managed to more than double the volume of transports from 47 thousand TEUs in 2015 to 101 thousand TEUs in 2016. Only to double growth again a year later. According to UTLC, the railway undertaking moved 101,700 TEUs in the first eight months of 2017, which is about 2 times more than 54,200 TEUs in the same period in 2016. In other words, UTLC alone operated 2,102 container trains on Russian territory in 2017.
The number of regular UTLC services reached 48 in 2017 compared to 19 in the beginning of 2016. The company managed 15 container trains daily. To cope with the growth, UTLC’s President Aleksey Grom announced two major initiatives in 2017 – XL trains and a new corridor through the region of Kaliningrad.
On September 2nd, 2017, the first «XL-train» containing eighty 40 TEU containers successfully arrived at Brest border station where the containers were loaded onto trains that operate on the 1,435 mm narrow gauge European railway system. Within the realization of the project «XL‑train», more than 115 long trains were sent, each one containing up to 100 rail cars. The given technology allows UTLC to optimize the usage of railway infrastructure capacity while reducing transport costs at the same time.
Aleksey Grom further elaborates: “UTLC plans to drastically increase the volume of cargo transportation en route to Asia – Europe – Asia, opening a new railway line along the Kaliningrad region. It is expected, that at the first stage of the project, up to 365 container trains will pass through the terminals of Kaliningrad per year.”