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2 Oct, 2009 09:23

Trans-Siberian looks to boost cargo performance

The Trans - Siberian railway is one of the world’s most famous passenger routes. But Russian Railways is looking to boost its viability as a cargo transit route between Europe and Asia.

The Trans Siberian railway connects 28 countries, bridging the Far East and Europe across Russia. Passengers can currently make the trip in as little as seven days, but cargo is taking up to twice as long, meaning a major systems overhaul is vital to increasing traffic. Boris Lapidus, senior vice president at Russian Railways, thinks new technological developments are necessary.

“In order to transport cargoes in 7 days across the Trans Siberian route, with the same rails, new technology will be the key, along with new operational planning. For example, we will use locomotives for 2500 km, not for 700 km, like now, and this will save a day.”

Demand for railway transportation has fallen 25% to 30% with the onset of the economic downturn, but key players, such as Rudiger Grube, CEO at Deutsche Bahn, are looking to the longer term.

“It's a great idea. As you know, due to the fact that economic world wide crisis took place, project makes no sense, because the customers are not there, but it will be realized later, that for sure”

Japanese interests are prepared to invest in the development of the Trans Siberian route, but aren’t currently using it, as it’s too slow and expensive, according to Hirokazu Tsujimoto, a senior advisor at Kintetsu world express.

“The service is very slow in Russia, this is due to poor operation of Vostochnii port – a gateway of containers and total costs of shipping from Japan to Europe are not competitive to the sea transport.”

Reduction in bureaucratic barriers, and unification of operating procedures across all countries connected by the route, is seen as a key to reviving the line, particularly for commercial traffic. With more economic heavyweights now connected to the line calls for its renewal are expected to get louder.

Germany – the final European point of the world famous railway. It wants more effectiveness and efficiency of what is increasing seen as a vital route connecting Far East and Europe.