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21.11.2016

Belt and Road, EAEU alignment offers alternative route for Eurasian trade: Russian business leader

Moscow, Nov. 21. The alignment of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative with the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) would make railway an efficient alternative to sea transport across Eurasia, a leading Russian business leader has said, according to Xinhua.

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The United Transport and Logistics Company (UTLC), a joint venture of the Russian Railways, the National Union of Belarus Railways and Kazakhstan's Temir Zholy railway company, is the operator of rail transit container service on the China-Europe route with a track gauge of 1,520 mm.

"We are creating an alternative to Chinese manufacturers, offering them to deliver goods to the Kazakh border instead of ports, and providing the same well-organized service," UTLC President Alexei Grom said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

"Railway route is more effective," Grom said. "Trains leave on schedule agreed between the railway administrations and reach the designated destinations in Europe three times as fast as by sea."

While sea transport accounts for the bulk of the cargo turnover on the route from Asia to Europe, UTLC believes that customers should have a choice and thus provides them with very competitive conditions, he added.

The Belt and Road Initiative, unveiled by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, brings together countries in Asia, Europe and even Africa, with the purpose of boosting infrastructure building, financial cooperation and cultural exchanges in the regions.

In May 2015, top leaders of China and Russia agreed in Moscow to integrate the Silk Road Economic Belt with the framework of EAEU.

Thanks to the joint efforts of Russian, Belarusian, Kazakh and Chinese railways operators, Grom voiced his confidence in an increase in cargo volumes this year.

"China would shortly send its 1000th cargo train this year on the route to Europe," he said, adding that his company holds regular meetings with China Railway Corporation, its main partner in China.

"When the world is experiencing major changes in the economy, finance, and the political arrangement of our lives, we, the closest neighbors, need to communicate more, to understand which benefits of the globalized world we may have," Grom said.