Rail operator UTLC ERA implements project to decarbonise Eurasian container transport

To coincide with the UN Climate Conference 2021 in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November, the countries along the New Silk Road as well as individual actors are presenting various initiatives with the aim of decarbonising transport and transferring more goods onto rail. 


With a share of around 20 per cent of CO2 emissions, the transport sector is the third largest cause of greenhouse gas emissions after the energy sector and industry. For this reason, the parties involved are using environmental campaigns and initiatives to increase awareness of the Eurasian rail network as a sustainable, innovative and safe mode of transport. It is intended that sustainability should become a clear competitive advantage. 


The joint Russian, Kazakh and Belarusian company UTLC ERA has developed a CO2 counter which can calculate online the energy consumption and the emissions of a relevant logistics chain on the longest section of the New Silk Road – from China to the Polish border. UTLC ERA transports transit freight on scheduled container trains on broad-gauge tracks (1520 mm) between China and Europe. 


To show customers how many tons of COcan be saved using rail transport, the energy consumption and environmental emissions of individual consignments are worked out on the basis of actual data. According to UTLC ERA’s COcalculator, 34,300 tons of CO2 were emitted during the period January to September 2021 when 513,700 standard containers (TEU) were transported by rail from China to Europe (via Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus). If a comparable volume of goods were to be transported by sea, then 163,800 tons of CO2 would be emitted into the atmosphere. By road, this figure would be 3,052,000 tons. And by air the CO2 emissions would amount to 18,105,200 tons, which is more than 500 times the figure for transport by rail. Further information about the UTLC ERA CO2 calculator is available at:



Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) promotes efficient container transport


A declaration of intent by the government council of the Eurasian Economic Union in August 2021 regarding its support for efficient container transport between Europe and China by the rail operators in Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus is intended to provide further impetus towards decarbonising the Eurasian rail corridor. In addition, a plan for implementing the digitisation of goods transport by rail was agreed. 


The participating countries underlined their commitment to the joint-stock company UTLC ERA, which has the task of monitoring pilot projects regarding the implementation of technological innovations and the principles of carbon-neutral rail logistics. 


UTLC ERA will also help to introduce a unified EAEU procedure for goods transit. Accordingly, it is planned to move over to digital freight documentation and then to apply this standard along the entire China-Europe-China route. The accompanying documentation will provide a sustainability value in money terms and detailed information about the CO2 emissions that have been saved. 



“Keen on Green” initiative looks for cooperation partners in matters of sustainability 


In view of the anticipated growth in Eurasian rail transport to five per cent of the total container traffic between China and Europe in 2021, the contribution of “green rail” to a worldwide reduction in CO2 emissions is becoming increasingly important. In 2015, the share of rail in Eurasian freight transport was just one per cent. 


As Alexey Grom, CEO of UTLC ERA, points out, “The ecological added value provided by goods transport by rail is becoming a new philosophy for developing a sustainable railway industry on our continent. Climate-friendly rail transport could quite rightly be seen as a symbol for the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow. After all, the transfer of more and more goods onto rail is a decisive prerequisite for achieving the European Green Deal and for driving forward the decarbonisation of Eurasian logistics.”


With its environmental initiative “Keen on Green”, this rail operator supports cooperations in the interests of sustainability. One of the aims of the initiative is to seek to protect particularly endangered animal species in conservation areas along the New Silk Road. For example, the company is supporting the WWF project for reintroducing the endangered Tugai deer in Kazakhstan.