Alexey Grom: New Technologies Set New Goals for Railways with the Track Width of 1520

Polska Gazeta Transportowa, 18.12.2019 (print) // Interview with Alexey Grom, General Director of UTLC ERA

JSC UTLC ERA–an enterprise with the headquarters in Moscow, was created by Russian, Kazakh and Belarusian railway systems (with 33% of shares held by each), which specializes in railway container transportation along railroads with the track width of 1520 between Europe and China, held an event in Warsaw as part of the One Million Club marketing initiative. What motivated you to hold this conference?

Our main goal was to exchange important information between organizations and companies in the sector of international railway transportation. We exchange experiences, discuss obstacles and opportunities we are facing, try to formulate our plans for the future as precisely as possible and join our efforts focused on cutting the time in transit. For us as a company that seeks to establish partnership relations based on mutual trust, it is essentially important to understand firsthand the realities that our customers face. These events are obviously very important for the business, at least within the business model advocated by UTLC ERA. When we set before us the goal of reaching the figure of 1 million TEU in the future, we wanted our partners and clients to know about it. We showcased our new routes for them. The most important aspect for me lies in getting as much reliable information as it is possible regarding the development of product demand on the European market: without this knowledge success cannot be achieved. I would want us all to communicate in the same language, the language of railways. This is why I am so very happy to visit Warsaw and discuss the current state of affairs with my colleagues within the industry.

Is it true that UTLC ERA also carries out intermodal container transportations that bypass Poland, and thus, the main route of the New Silk Road?

Our basic route passes from China across Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus, and crosses the border with Poland at the Brest/Małaszewicze border crossing point. We are very pleased that the development of the border terminal in this area goes on simultaneously in Belarus and Poland. The terminal in Brest was modernized, and investments were made in the Northern Brest Container Terminal. This is where our basic route passes. Other routes were laid by us through the stations of Bruzgi – Kuznitsa Bialystok and Semenovka-Svisloch, where there two other container terminals between Belarus and Poland are located. We offer our services on all three routes. At present we are working on developing a route via Kaliningrad on the border with Poland. Thanks to this direction, we managed to establish partnership relations with Polish, German and Dutch ports. We are trying to find the most effective solutions and new routes that would allow us to access European port terminals as quickly as possible, as it will allow us to achieve the goal of reaching the number of 1 million containers faster. Poland has been tightly incorporated into the strategy of using and mastering these routes; this country is one of the most important links in the process of creating the chain of commodity deliveries. This is why we organized the meeting of our One Million Club in Poland.

According to the information provided by your company, it transports more than 70% of all transit cargoes in container trains across the territory of the FSU, and on the route between Europe and China, where it takes trains just 5.5 days to cover the distance of 5,430 miles. At the same time UTLC ERA seeks not only to increase its turnover but also cut down on the time it takes to transit the cargoes from one point to the other. How does the company do it?

At UTLC ERA we aspire to use every opportunity to reduce the time needed for transit, even if by one hour. This is not an easy task to accomplish, so even if we should cut the time only by a fraction, it will still be a success. A railway transit between Asia and Europe is a process of a high degree of complexity, in which we must consider a multitude of small details: technological, infrastructural, commercial and marketing. And we take all these aspects into consideration. Last week we managed to cut the transit time in Smolensk on the border between Russia and Belarus by another hour. New technologies set new goals for railways with the track width of 1520. I hear that similar optimization processes are underway in European countries, and this shows that railways offer definite advantages for our countries, people and companies. When the economy is developing, people live better. That’s how I see the future of our industry: less expenses, and more trains, containers, jobs, successful companies, and better welfare of the society as a whole.