China-Europe Route Expands Cargo Types and Traffic Volumes: interview with Aleksey Grom, General Director of UTLC ERA

Source: Xinhua News Agency
“The railway logistics companies in the Eurasian region should increase their transport capacities, develop technologies, digital services and at the same time ensure the competitiveness of transportation prices in order to cope with growing number of China-Europe trains”, - noted Aleksey Nikolaevich Grom, General Director of UTLC ERA in an interview with Xinhua.
Shares of UTLC ERA are owned by Russian Railways, Kazakhstan Temir Zholy and the Belarusian Railways; it provides transit transportation services across the territories of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus.
Aleksey Grom noted that the container traffic volumes along the China-Europe-China route by UTLC ERA JSC in January-June 2021 amounted to TEU 336.5 thousand, by the reporting period of 2020 the growth was approximately 50 %. In May 2021, the company achieved an absolute record (at month-end) since the beginning of its operating activity the traffic volume reached TEU 61.5 thousand.
"We expect that the annual traffic volume this year will be approximately 700,000 TEU, which may become a new annual record. Moreover, it is also very important to maintain the rate, competitiveness, reliability and safety of transportation," - said Aleksey Grom.
According to UTLC ERA, three years ago, among the goods sent to Europe from China were mainly electronics, mechanical engineering products and motor vehicle parts, which amounted to a share of 80%. In the first half of this year, these three types of cargo amounted to about 40% of the total traffic volume. The volume of transportation of chemical products, such as plastics, rubber and glass, is rapidly increasing, as well as the volume of transportation of medical goods - the product categories are becoming more and more various.
According to Aleksey Grom, the volume of cargo transportation from Europe to China is also increasing:
“We also offer commercial solutions to our customers by using empty containers headed in the opposite direction for transit shipping of Belarusian and Russian agricultural products through Kazakhstan for export to China”.
The dynamic development of e-commerce has a positive impact on the growth of China-Europe Express cargo transportation, since the operating model of e-commerce provides a tendency to faster goods delivery. It is expected to become one of the new growth points for cross-border rail transport in the future.
According to Aleksey Grom, the company made a number of steps in order to cope with the ever-growing flow of China-Europe express trains, to further increase the capacity and ensure the level of service and prices, including the elongation of freight trains and the development of new container terminals along the China-Europe high-speed train line.
Aleksey Grom added that the railway transportation reliability and safety has been fully tested in the conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic. The medical and protective equipment can be delivered to the destination point on time even in the most difficult period. The railway has become a link that brings goodness to different parts of the world. The rail transportation has become a viable substitute for sea and road transport for many companies trading in Europe and China.
Within the framework of the “One Belt One Road” construction, the Eurasian Economic Union and the new economic policy of Kazakhstan “Nurly Zhol”, Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan are actively developing railway transit transportation and accelerating the construction of logistics infrastructure. Aleksey Grom believes that these are future investments that will have a multiplicative effect on the development of countries and will be able to encourage the growth of a number of sectors, such as construction, engineering and IT technologies.