Time for greater collaboration
Growth rates are already considerable – but the railfreight operator UTLC Eurasian Rail Alliance (UTLC Era) wants more, as CEO Alexey Grom told the ITJ in a recent interview. At the Transpotec Logitec trade fair in Verona he introduced UTLC’s new UTLC Eurasian Rail Alliance index (Erai), which provides users with prices, capacity utilisation and transit times through Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus.
UTLC Eurasian Rail Alliance (UTLC Era), a joint venture between RŽD, KTZ and BCh, the Russian, Kazakh and Belarusian state railways, was very satisfied with business last year. The three companies has each held a stake of one third in UTLC Era since April 2018.
Chief executive officer Alexey Grom referred to the particularly strong growth of Eurasian railfreight volumes handled by the corporation. “In 2018 we transported more than 370,000 teu, or 35% more than in the previous year,” he elaborated happily.
The range ofservices on offer has been further developed by the company. 3,342 trains operated on 57 different routes last year. “The infrastructure in the regional terminals can handle 1.2 million teu a year.”
Great potential; new services
Grom believes that UTLC Era is better prepared to face potential hurdles today. “Multimodal solutions are of the essence”, which enables the company to more easily overcome traffic slowdowns of the type caused by track work in Poland in summer 2018. The port of Kaliningrad in the Russo-Polish border region can handle up to 16 trains a day, and is additionally connected to the entire Baltic Sea economic region by short sea traffic transport solutions. After all, 40 trains already operated there in the month of December 2018.
In addition to joint ventures with logistics and technology partners, including the transport company Asstra, UTLC Era also focuses on the interests of shippers. Grom is convinced that “the market needs clear standards.” To this end the company has launched the UTLC Eurasian Rail Alliance index (Erai). The project aims to make tariffs charged in the Eurasian land bridge between China and Europe, which were lowered again in February, available to users in digital form in real time.
This price indicator, which was on the drawing board from 2016 onwards, is compiled from a number of factors. They include the freight rates offered by the three partner railways, wagon hire costs, the expense of transhipping containers in terminals, as well as the transit time and speed offered on the transport routes. “We want to offer a maximum of transparency in our open corridor,” Grom said.
The goal is clear – 1 million boxes are expected to be transported on Eurasian routes by 2025.