Railway transport is the transport mode that manages to face the challenges of the bulk freight transfer most optimally. It cannot compete with the other means of transport from the point of view of either shipped volumes of travel times and costs.
The importance of shipping bulk freight on rails resides in several factors: the technical and economic benefits, much more effective compared to other transport modes and the direction and capacity of railway lines, for example, a freight capacity exceeding 100 million tonnes can be carried in either direction. As it has proved its effectiveness in the transport of goods on long distances, for the near future, we can state that railway transport will keep its top position among the transport modes used for shipping bulk.
In regards to the type of bulk carried on railways, the first position goes to coal and coke, ranking first both in volumes carried and in turnover. Conversely, construction materials, liquids (especially oil and oil products), ores, ferrous materials, timber, grains and chemicals rank last.
In Russia, Central and Eastern Europe countries, as well as Central Asia, the bulk carried on rails have a greater share than in Western Europe.
For example, Mongolia and Russia have initiated a bulk transport services for exports to the countries in Asia-Pacific region, via the port of Vostochny. The goods delivery time is 6 days compared to 22 days, as, until now, all goods shipped from Mongolia through Russia followed western routes. “This service proves both the importance of bulk transport, as well as the development of this segment for railway transport operators in Mongolia, Russia and China, to those in Japan and South Korea”, declared Anthony Milewski, Vice President of Sharyn Gol operator (Mongolia).In order to establish a reliable freight rail transport service between China and Europe, a route between China and Germany, passing through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus and Poland was developed. This project seeks to reduce the transit time between the two terminus points to 15-16 days.
In terms of costs, the optimal means of transport for shipping bulk is undoubtedly railway transport as it can ship a larger volume of freight, this being the reason why many forwarders choose to carry their goods on rails in order to cut costs.
For this to happen, the railway system needs to boost competitiveness and effectiveness.
by Pamela Luică