Inauguration of new terminal for trans-Eurasian rail transport in Kaliningrad region: UTLC ERA successfully processes its first pair of trains

The expansion of transport and logistics capacities in the Kaliningrad region is creating additional options for rail transport between Europe and China. The new terminal will enable rail logistics service providers to operate flexibly on the New Silk Road, on which the rise in transport volumes is continuing to set new records. 


On 1st October, the new transport and logistics centre “East-West” in the town of Chernyakhovsk in the Kaliningrad region was officially opened. The new rail terminal has the capacity to manage 450,000 standard containers (TEU) a year. 


Anton Alikhanov, governor of the Kaliningrad region, Sergei Sapegin, director of the Kaliningrad Railway Company, and Alexey Grom, CEO of UTLC ERA, took part in the opening ceremony. Oleg Belozerov, CEO of the Russian Railways (RZD), sent his greetings via video link and pointed out the importance of the new transport terminal in view of the seven-fold increase in trans-Eurasian rail traffic in the Russian exclave. 


Alexey Grom emphasised the significance of the collaboration with the Kaliningrad Railways in organising trans-Eurasian container transport and in continuing to develop these joint infrastructure projects. He forecast a further increase in the amount of rail traffic on the transit route between Europe and China. In 2020, a total of around 8 per cent of all rail transport between Europe and China was handled in Kaliningrad. In 2019, this figure was just 3 per cent. 


The new transport and logistics terminal “East-West” was created in 2020 on the basis of an agreement between the Russian Transport Ministry, RZD and the government of the Kaliningrad region on the implementation of the Russian federal project “Transport and logistics centres”. The hub is intended to specialise in import/export transport and the handling of transit containers between Europe and Asia. In the medium term, it is expected to become one of the most important transport hubs along the New Silk Road. 


The new rail terminal will support the rail transport of UTLC ERA on the China-Europe-China route. The company plans to handle up to two pairs of trains a week in the terminal. Pilot trains passed their tests successfully. In Chernyakhovsk, the containers are transferred from the wide-gauge (1520 mm) tracks onto the narrower European gauge (1435 mm) and then transported to their destination. The immediate proximity of the terminal to the border crossing point at Zheleznodorozhny on the Russian side and Skandawa on the Polish side will make it possible to increase the transit of goods to Europe. This will apply particularly when other border crossing points, especially the Belarusian-Polish ones, are operating at the limit of their capacity. 


On the opening of the new terminal, Alexey Grom, CEO of UTLC ERA, emphasised the factor of speed, which, in his view, is gaining in importance. He went on to point out that speed was not just a matter of how fast the trains travelled but also a matter of how fast decisions were made about adapting transit traffic to new destinations and applying new technology to rail. As he explained, “This is particularly important today because rail transport plays a strategic role as a “land bridge” between China and Europe. In August, we agreed on how we were going to work together with the new terminal. And today, only a month or so later, we are handling the first two transit trains from China and Europe.”