Several Positive Factors Lead to an Increase in the Volume of International Container Transportation

28 february 2018 | RZD Partner

In 2017, the volume of container transportation at Russian Railways was a record – it grew by almost 19%. "The volumes are increasing the second year in a row, mainly due to international transportation: export, import and transit – a total increase of about 500 thousand TEU," the expert of the Analytical Center Dmitry Chernenok told RZD Partner publishing house.

Dmitry Chernenok
Dmitry Chernenok
Department for State-Run Programs and Budgeting

According to the analyst, actively developing e-commerce services make a significant contribution to the growth of container shipments in Russia. "Only in the first half of 2017, the cross-border Internet trade grew by 34% as compared to the same period of the previous year and reached the level of 420 billion rubles. At the same time, more than 90% of all purchases accounted for China. This is not the limit of growth," the expert said.

Mr. Chernenok notes that foreign companies are actively showing interest in the Russian e-commerce sector. "For example, last September Alibaba Group launched the Tmall platform in Russia, which is a specialized trading platform for Russian users," the expert said. "However, with a view to reducing the imbalance of cargo flows, development of export shipments in containers, as well as the expansion of supplies from Europe to China, is equally important. Thus, in 2017 a container train with lumber and equipment began to run from Finland to China."

The resulting deficit of the car fleet in the period of high demand (August–October 2017), according to Mr. Chernenok, led to an increase in demand for container transportation services of such items as grain, metals, timber cargo, industrial and food products.

In addition to standard containers, shipments of refrigerator containers and tank containers are actively developing. The growth is associated with the containerization of goods previously transported by specialized refrigerated transport, the analyst explained.

The expert believes that the increase in the volume of international container transportation depends on several positive factors, as well as decisions taken in 2017. They include the constructive cooperation of Russian Railways JSC with the participants of international transportation. "Russian and Chinese national companies in 2017 solved the issue of electronic document management, which resulted in a simplified exchange of CIM/SMGS consignment notes. It was also decided to unify the length of the container train – 41 conventional railcars for transit trains on the route China – Europe. In its turn, UTLC followed the reverse way – it switched to the formation of long-container trains into 82 conditional railcars," Mr. Chernenok summed up.

The analyst believes that RZD helped to pull out goods from the road transport to railway operators. In 2016, Russian Railways JSC, within the framework of the implementation of the client-oriented policy, suggested that consignors refuse to issue a request for GU-12 when transporting containers through traffic (excluding port stations). This measure, according to the holding, attracted spot customers from the motor transport. The fact that operators are laying new routes for different cargoes suitable for transportation in containers speaks in favor of the railroad. "At the end of the year, the volume of exports amounted to only 130 TEU, but the service continues to develop, and such measures indicate the availability of capacity," the expert believes.

Source: RZD Partner

Photo: from open sources