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Border crossing replenished with containers

More goods from China are transported through Zabaykalsk

The Zabaikalsk railway checkpoint remains the largest at the Russian-Chinese border. Over the 7 months of the 2019 year, freight traffic through it increased by 7%, amounting to more than ten million tons. At the same time, the most active pace is working with containers, in which more and more goods with high added value are transported from China.

Border crossing replenished with containers
Photo: pixabay.com

The commodity circulation dispersed the carriage

According to the PRC Main Customs Directorate, trade between Russia and China in the first half of the 2019 year reached 51,7 billion dollars, exceeding 5% last year. At the same time, the volume of Russian exports grew by 10,7% - up to 29,6 billion dollars. In the coming years, it is expected that trade and economic relations between the countries will develop even more rapidly.

“We have already set a new indicator, a new goal. By 2024, we’ll reach a turnover of 200 billion dollars (in 2018 for the first time it exceeded 100 billion dollars - approx. Ed.) I think that this goal is feasible, because from now on trade and economic cooperation is developing at an accelerated pace, ”said Recently, Chinese Ambassador to the Russian Federation Zhang Hanhui.

Trade intensification is reflected in the transport industry. For example, the universal terminal and warehouse complex of the Far Eastern Transport Group in Zabaikalsk in January-June increased the number of railway wagons received and dispatched by 14% compared to the same period of 2018, revenue from the terminal increased by 17%.

A significant part of foreign economic traffic falls on energy carriers, while China remains the main partner of Russia in the field of container transportation.

“We see a continuing trend of replacing European goods with Chinese counterparts. This applies to equipment, machine tools, chemical products, ”comments Maxim Shishkov, head of the strategic marketing department of the FESCO transport group.

The foreign trade turnover of Russia and China cannot be imagined without the operation of land checkpoints. By rail from China, more and more goods with high added value are transported, in the cost of which the share of transport costs is quite small, according to JSC Russian Railways Logistics.

“The main trend in the field of foreign trade traffic with China is related to the systematic reduction by the Chinese side of subsidies for rail transportation. The consequence of this is a change in cargo types, ”explained Olga Stepanova, Sales Director of the company. “With the abolition of subsidies, the rates also increase, which is why the first thing that goes on trains is delivery, for which the delivery time is one of the main conditions.”

The development of container transportation in China is largely due to the increasing demand for Russian wood products.

“The Chinese direction is a priority for our company, we plan to increase deliveries there, including through new transportation schemes,” said Vitaliy Demidenko, Sales Director of RFP Group.

In August, the holding, together with FESKO Integrated Transport LLC, sent a test container train with veneer to Harbin from Amursk through the Grodekovo border station. It is expected that this service will become regular: the company plans to go on the organization of two routes with containers per month.

A similar composition this month was formed by another timber holding company - LLC “Group of Companies“ ULK ””. On August 17, a train with lumber departed from the Arkhangelsk region to the Zabaykalsk - Manchuria border crossing, where containers are to be loaded onto Chinese rolling stock with further delivery to the Tuanjetsun station to the Zhejiang Materials Industry Senhua Group. Previously, ULK container cargoes were exported only through the ports of the North-West of Russia. Based on the results of the trial dispatch, customers will decide on the advisability of developing an alternative direction.

Empty containers are looking for loading

According to the head of the Trans-Baikal Territory, Alexander Osipov, the Zabaikalsk checkpoint is the largest in the country on the border with China and, along with the presence in the region of a rich mineral resource base, forest fund and agricultural land, gives Trans-Baikal a competitive advantage in comparison with other subjects of Russia.

It is difficult to disagree with this: in January-July, freight traffic along the Zabaykalsk-Manchuria section reached 10,4 million tons (7,1% higher than the same period for the 2018 year), for comparison, the second largest Russian-Chinese crossing Grodekovo-Suifenhe handled 6,2 million tons various cargoes (+ 7,6%).

The bulk of the turnover at the Zabaykalsk checkpoint is in forest products, coal and ore. At the same time, container traffic is growing dynamically. For example, in July, 153,6 thousand tons of containerized cargo was transported from Russia to China (+ 23,4% to the same month of 2018 of the year). 126,7 thousand tons (+ 38,4%) proceeded from China.



In just seven months, a little more than one million tons of container cargo arrived from Zabaikalsk to Manchuria - about the same as for the entire 2018 year. According to market participants, since the second quarter of 2019, transport companies have been forced to work more actively on loading transit containers returning from European countries to China. China almost completely banned subsidizing the return of empty containers from Europe, Olga Stepanova said.

“In fact, this is a continuation of the process of streamlining the rules of transportation by rail. Of course, at the first stage, such changes may not have the most positive effect, but in the end they will lead to stabilization, understandable and predictable development of the rail freight market with China, ”the manager concluded.

Transit traffic leads to integration

Cooperation between Russian and Chinese operator companies helps to develop transportation. So, in the framework of the international exhibition Transport Logistic, which was held in early summer in Munich, Russian Railways Logistics agreed to develop transit communications with Sinotrans, one of the largest operators in China.

“Within the framework of cooperation, our company will provide wagons and will operate trains on the gauge space 1520 mm and in Europe. At the same time, we will facilitate the attraction of goods to these trains. And Sinotrans will provide logistics services on its territory and, among other things, will help shippers to receive export subsidies, ”Olga Stepanova said.

In turn, TransContainer PJSC and China Railways Container Transport have optimized their work at the junction of border stations to make their service attractive. This summer, a technology was introduced when trains arriving from Manchuria to the TransContainer terminal in Zabaykalsk were reloaded according to the 3 to 2 scheme - three trains were reorganized by direct reloading into two. Further, the routes followed through the territory of Russia with minimal processing.

“The 3 at 2 project overcomes the problem of differences in the length of trains accepted in China and Russia. At the same time, the overall transit time of transportation is reduced due to more efficient transshipment of containers from narrow gauge wagons to broad gauge wagons, which, of course, provides an increase in the attractiveness of the route and a new growth point for transportation volumes, ”said Alexander Podilov, Deputy General Director of TransContainer.

The leading players in the global transport services market began to show interest in the Manchuria-Zabaykalsk border crossing. Container shipping integrator Maersk, with the assistance of TransContainer, recently launched a container train between Chinese Dalian and Vorotynsk Station in Kaluga Region as a pilot.

“We are confident that this transportation route between northeastern China and central Russia will be able to provide our Russian and foreign customers with stable transit time and a high level of service,” said Zholt Katona, Director General of Maersk Eastern Europe.

This is the first time that Maersk was able to offer its customers through transportation from the PRC to the European part of the Russian Federation as part of a container train.

“The new train offers an excellent alternative for cargo owners who are interested in expedited delivery and will be able to organically complement the Maersk line of services,” added Zsolt Katona.

At the same time, the choice of route today is largely determined by the shipper from China, rather than by a logistics company. Along with the Manchuria-Zabaykalsk crossing, transport schemes actively use transit from China to Russia through Mongolia, respectively, through the Erlyan-Dzamyn-Ud and Suche-Bator-Naushki border crossings.

“If he is the shipper receives subsidies from the state in order to send his goods, for example, through Mongolia, and the Chinese Railways provide slots for transportation on this route, then the transportation will be organized on the territory of this state. In this case, you can’t just change the route and direct it through the Zabaykalsk - Manchuria border crossing or through Kazakhstan, ”explains Olga Stepanova, Sales Director of JSC Russian Railways Logistics.