The Trans-Siberian Railroad's role in the economy of the Asia Pacific Region (APR) is becoming increasingly significant each year, Viktor Popov, the head of the Far East Railways (FER), said.
According to him, the most rapid growth in freight traffic in the Maritime Territory has been seen in the Grodekovo-Suifunhe Russian -Chinese railroad corridor. In 2003, 5.7 million metric tons of cargo was transported via this corridor in both directions, which is five times more than four years ago. In 2004, 7 million metric tons of cargo is expected to be transported.
While the majority of cargo being transported used to be Russian, now the freight traffic from China is rapidly growing. Two days ago, the Chinese began shipping a new kind of cargo - coke - via the Maritime Territory. This year Chinese beans and rice are expected to be shipped via Maritime Territory. Beginning this summer, Russian petroleum products will become a new export item transported by the Grodekovo-Suifunhe section.
In the first three months of 2004, more than 1.5 million metric tons of foreign-trade cargo, or 10 % more than last year, were transported via the Grodekovo- Suifunhe railroad corridor. The volume of cargo that Russia imported from China grew by more than 50% compared to the first quarter of 2003.
The sustainable growth of bilateral freight traffic allowed the Grodekovo and Suifunhe stations to be modernized - the throughput capacity will increase and hi-tech automated customs control will be introduced.
Kamyshovaya-Hungzhun, another railroad corridor connecting Russia and China south of the Maritime Territory, opened to accelerate the freight carriage. Over 1 million metric tons of cargo was transported through it during its first four months of operation.
The project to connect the Trans-Korean Railroad with the Trans-Siberian Railroad will open great prospects for the Far East Railways, Mr. Popov said.
The section of railroad from the Hasan border station to the Trans-Siberian Railroad near the city of Ussuriisk (the second largest city in the Maritime Territory) is undergoing modernization. The implementation of the project may result, according to preliminary estimates, in no less 10 million metric tons of cargo being transported via this section.
The amount of international containers being carried on the Trans-Siberian Railroad from Asia to Europe is growing at a high rate as well. The railroad freight schedule for 2004 envisages seven routes for freight container trains from the port station of Nakhodka Vostochnaya (eastern Nakhodka, 90 kilometers east of Vladivostok). There will be four routes to Finland, one to Brest, situated in Belarus on the border with Poland, one to Central Asia and one to Moscow.
The route used to transport cargo from Asia to Europe via Russia is almost three times shorter than the shipping route through the Pacific and Indian Oceans and the Suez Canal.