Due to broad cooperation between China and Russia ranging from the modernization of railway infrastructure to information sharing agreements, cargo shipments along the China-Russia-Europe route are growing at a record pace.
So far this year, growth has reached about 90 percent year-on-year, Alexander Misharin, a senior executive from the Russian state railway operator JSC Russian Railways, told the Global Times in an exclusive interview over the weekend.
During the interview, which took place at about the same time that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited Sochi, Russia for a key meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Misharin said that railway cooperation between China and its largest neighbor to the north has many facets.
Solid progress been made on the Moscow-Kazan High-speed Railway project, which has long been in the spotlight. There has also been progress in many other sectors, including the further facilitation of freight trains linking China and Europe via Russia.
"Cooperation between Russia and China in railway transportation has a long successful history and it has been developing [even more] lately," Misharin said.
This year, more than 3,000 freight trains have traveled along 57 routes from China to Europe, topping the combined numbers reached in the 2011 to 2016 period and pushing the total to more than 6,000 trips, media reports said on November 18, with many of these trains passing through Russia.
Global Times reporter Chu Daye (GT) spoke to Alexander Misharin (Misharin), first deputy general director of JSC Russian Railways, to find out more.
Q&A with Alexander Misharin
GT: What are the most significant achievements of Russian-Chinese cooperation in the railway sector in 2017?
Misharin: The large scope of our interaction makes it possible to create high-speed railway (HSR) projects. Considerable attention is paid to logistics. In April 2017, an agreement was signed among the railways of China, Belarus, Germany, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Poland and Russia on deepening cooperation regarding the organization of container trains between China and Europe.
Work on the modernization of railway border crossings between Russia and China is continuing and steps are being taken to increase their throughput. These measures will help increase cargo shipments with China and on Eurasian routes through Russia.
Transit shipments on the China-Russia-Europe route are expanding at a record pace. This year, growth was about 90 percent.
There are also new cargo-delivery routes, including through ports of the Russian Far East and northeastern China.
Work with China's rail sector is being developed and implemented on an electronic data-interchange system to improve the level of informatization of international traffic and to inform customs authorities about cargo being shipped across the border from China.
GT: What is the status of the Moscow-Kazan HSR project?
Misharin: The Moscow-Kazan HSR is the first high-speed rail project in Russia and it will be important for implementing the initiatives of leaders in Russia and China on combining the developmental processes of the Eurasian Economic Union and the construction of the Belt and Road initiative.
The design and survey work on the Moscow-Kazan HSR project is being completed by a Russian-Chinese consortium, including the China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group.
A public technological and price audit of engineering surveys of the Moscow-Nizhny Novgorod section has been conducted. Within the framework of the Russian-Chinese working group of enterprises, issues of localizing the production of high-speed rolling stock and financing the project, including the involvement of the Silk Road Investment Fund, the China Development Bank, the New Development Bank and other international investors, are being discussed.
GT: What kind of cooperation will there be beyond the Moscow-Kazan HSR project?
Misharin: We consider the Moscow-Kazan HSR project to be the first stage of a large-scale China-Russia-Europe high-speed transport corridor (HSR Eurasia) that will link continental transport systems and shorten the delivery time of goods from China to European countries to three to five days. We consider the Eurasia project to be one of the most promising areas of cooperation.
As part of the Russian-Chinese working group of enterprises for cooperation in HSR (involving JSC Russian Railways and China Railway), a special subgroup has been set up to calculate the economic efficiency of the project for high-speed cargo transportation by rail.
However, to successfully implement the project, a number of political and technical factors must be considered.
HSR Eurasia will pass through six countries (Russia, China, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Poland and Germany). Therefore, it is necessary to reach agreements at the governmental level of these states in terms of a common vision for its prospects, unified planning and the technological combination of railway networks.
Source: Global Times