Transport by rail to Russia - experience since 1994
The owner of TPL , Robert J Vermetten was active on the Russian market since 1994 where he positioned and organised the first shuttle trains in cooperation with large, leading freight forwarders from Antwerp via Brest. He was amongst the first to develop trucking activity to Central Asia (Kazachstan and Uzbekistan).
But transport inside F.S.U (former Sovjet Union states) is much more than that.
In that time most of the operations were done by truck for short distances, also today upto 1500 km transport by truck is recommended . There is no real hub and spoke distribution system, Russians tend to love only full truck (large trucks or small vans) but no history in consol cargo, this is mainly explained by the complicated customs system. Exchange of cargo between forwarders or truckers in order to optimise transport is not common on this market.
Although we see that Russian venture capitalist are now investing in new warehouses, new inland logistics systems by road, and serious progress was made already.
Logistics in Russia are developing in high speed, all renowned freight forwarders are already present on this market. Business Monitor forecasted a growth of 7.7 % per year in transport volume in Russia, mainly airtransport.
Recently huge infrastructure projects around ST Petersburg were finished (Western-High Speed Diameter –WHSD) a high complex aimed to reduce congestion around St Petersburg. But due to this tough situation other short sea ports like Klaipeda, Riga, Tallin, Kotka, Rauma and Helsinki are well known transhipment hubs, oncarriage is continued either by train (via Russian rail width) or by road.
A couple of years ago a new multipurpose terminal opened in Ust-Lugo, a multipurpose terminal in the western part of St Petersburg.
Private Polish and German railoperators started railoperation to the eastern Ural !
As to Black Sea ports we must aim at Odessa and Ilysevhesk, for multipurpose terminals, many of the multiple ports tend to focus more on oil and gas facilities (eg Novorossiysk)
For the client below, several years ago we created transportsolutions from France till MUKRAN in Germany by road till KLAIPEDA (Lithuania) and pursued by train to CHEREPOVETS (for the Russian Severstal steel Mill) . Unfortunately this market
dried up with the crisis.
Transport by rail to Korea - Odessa - Stalowa Wola
Railcars to travel over FSU territory have a wider rail gauge than in Europe, this was decided in the 19th Century for strategic reasons, so that hostile countries were unable to organise their logistics by rail in the former USSR.
This entry was prepared together with our good Russian friends of Mortrans in St Petersburg Capt. Mike Vitrishko.
The main features of forwarding heavy lifts / oversized cargo via Russia
territory are certainly the developed net of inland railroads, which regulations allow transportation of overdimensional (OD) cargoes .
Not any other railroad in the world can accept such oversized units (see pcs below). The rail system of FSU states have the same rail gauge as Russian Rail (also Finland has Russian railconnection, Rostock and Lubeck ).
The colored area on the drawing below, indicates acceptable dimensions for transportation in Russian (Ukraine) railcars. This offers a substantial advantage for shipment of project cargo, moreover average speed is 200 km per day.
Also view picture of trafo transport by rail below.
In order to organise such complicated moves it takes time (4 -5 weeks pre-advice) to reserve special railcars in advance. It is also critical to get exact drawings with shipping dims, central point of gravity, lashing point. Uncertainty of some mm (!) in knowing width / height of cargo may result in many thousands of dollars in extra costs.
Numerous special equipments exist, and available when asked for well in advance. These schemes for HL/ODS transportation shall be approved by the Rail Authorities at place of loading (sometimes in Moscow) depending on details.
TRANSFORMER of 280 tons shipped by boat till ODESSA then transfer ex vessel onto RAILCAR with final delivery in POLAND (Stalowova) in close cooperation with our Polish HEAVY LIFT PARTNER.
Summarising, some important factors are to be considered when transporting out of gauge cargoes on Russian territory:
- Minimise the inland distance in favour of waterways. For instance, it makes no sense to deliver an oversized unit from Japan to Moscow / Central Russia or Central Asia via Far Eastern ports of Russia by inland transport. Inland Russian sea-river going fleet provided good connection with inland. Russian waterways to/from Europe /White Sea / Baltic Seaports, Black/Med sea ports, Russian inland ports and Caspian ports of Azerbaidjan, Iran, Kazachstan and Turkmenistan. In most ports floating cranes are available but we must check this in advance as well as access to inland waterways of course limited from april till sept-oct.
St Petersburg is the best equipped port of Russia, more berths are available, more draft, modern and powerful handling facilities.
- Check available alternatives : truck, rail, river and/or combination in order to choose the best solution with a reliable agent, who is aware of the cargo handling conditions at origin, delivery and transhipment sites.
- Be aware of the possibilities / conditions or choose routing (bridge calculations, road access etc... ) and or cargo handling facilities at origin, delivery and transhipment sites, knowing that in the Asian part of Russia automobile roads and bridges often are in a poor condition. In the region, there is a lack of handling facilities.
- Avoid transhipment in St Petersburg : by using Russian flagvessels, who can call in Europe and proceed directly to the Russian inland waterways, without transloading the cargo.
- Customs clearance : very important never get involved in this tricky aspect of the business, when you are selling DAP (DDU) make sure that your contract ends either railcars delivered at private railconnection of your client, or railhead main station at site . You need to get the NHZ code of cargo and approx. value, other certificates must be taken such as cargo conformity certificate, radiation certificate,….depending on the type of contract. Make sure you get your client to validate your invoice before starting the voyage. For Ukraine, the import duties must be prepaid by receiver, prior to arrival at border, a release number will be provided, then free passage is granted, this is often a cause for demurrage idle time at the border due to blocage with customs.