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Containers to gain significance on the market

In 2024, the volume of rail container shipment will continue to grow steadily
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By the end of 2023, the volume of container shipments through the Russian Railways network in all directions will reach a historical maximum of 7.4 million TEU. This figure was announced by Oleg Belozerov, General Director and Chairman of Russian Railways Management Board, during his speech at the IV Railway Congress held on December 15.

Over 11 months of this year, the volume of loaded and empty container shipments across the Russian Railways network in all directions amounted to 6 million 786.6 thousand TEU. This is 14.2% more than in the same period of the previous year. Out of this volume, loaded containers shipped in all types of transportation increased by 17.6% and reached 4 million 974.7 thousand TEU (69.5 million tons of cargo transported). Chemical and mineral fertilizers, grain, cars and components, construction cargoes and various food products have remained the leading drivers of growth as regards container shipments throughout the year.

You will recall that based on the results of 2021 and 2022, container shipments across the Russian Railways network remained at the same level of 6.5 million TEU, respectively. Zero growth dynamics in 2022 is explained by a drop in transit shipment to Europe through Russia.

According to Alexander Sivertsev, Director of Multimodal Transportation and Agrologistics at Russian Railways Logistics, the container shipment dynamics in 2023 suggests that the container market is gradually overcoming the difficulties it faced in 2022.

“The lost volumes are currently being partially compensated by import and export shipments to Asia, as well as transit shipment from the Republic of Belarus,” says Maxim Shishkov, Director of Strategy and Development of FESCO Transport Group.

The volume of container shipments will continue to grow steadily in 2024, says Alexander Sivertsev.

“Given the upward tendency of the trade turnover between Russia and a number of countries and the ever-growing business activity, as well as an effective modernization of railway and terminal-warehouse infrastructures, the optimization of overland checkpoints operation and the development of international transport corridors, the growth of container shipments can reach 12–14% by the end of 2024,” he says.

Sergey Avseykov, Executive Director of the Eurasian Union of Rail Freight Traffic Participants (ESP) told Gudok that in 2024 the Union participants expect about 10% growth in the railway container segment, while FESCO expects a growth of 5 to 6%.

The market is under development now, players are investing significant funds in the development of transport and logistics centers and acquiring fleet and containers, explains Sergey Avseykov.

“After international container shipping lines left the market, new carriers are emerging, which increases the load on North-Western port container terminals,” exemplifies Alexander Slobodyanik, Head of the Freight Transportation Research Department at the Institute for Natural Monopolies Research.

Beyond that, the active cargo containerization trend continues to gain momentum. “This year, the overall network-wide containerization level has exceeded 6%,” Alexander Slobodyanik cites the available data.

The growth of container transportation will be enhanced by utilizing a range of technological solutions designed to streamline the transportation process. This includes a proactive increase in container shipments in open box cars, as well as the advancement of trade relations with China. "In order to facilitate this growth, we need to not only sustain the current level of forwarding 22 trains to the Far East, but also increase the number of trains in line with the development of the Eastern Polygon infrastructure," believes Sergey Avseykov. 

Several negative factors will slow down the development of container shipments. “These include a high average ruble exchange rate over the next twelve months, as well as weaker anticipated GDP dynamics and restrictions on the railway infrastructure,” says Maxim Shishkov.

Sergey Volkov

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