Tayshet Station on Trans-Siberian Railway

China-Europe Link: How Russia Succeeds?

RZD had been developing plans for several years to run freights the length of the Trans-Siberian (9349 km) in under seven days and in spring 2013 this goal was achieved.

RZD states that it took various steps to reduce end-to-end journey time before starting the seven-day services. Here are some achievements:

  • Number of technical inspections of the freights was reduced from seven to three.
  • Number of changes of locomotive crews was reduced from 33 to 27.
  • There are now just seven changes of locomotives en route.

The entire project includes various measures to be taken. These, includes future proposals, are:

  • reducing the time taken for locomotive changes to under one hour,
  • reducing the time taken for locomotive crew changes to under 30 minutes,
  • revising train paths so that the freight spent the shortest possible time in refuge loops waiting to be overtaken by passenger expresses,
  • realizing various procedures simultaneously during stops,
  • reducing the length of time for technical and commercial inspections from the habitual 100 minutes to 75 minutes,
  • using dedicated priority tracks for these technical and commercial stops,
  • increasing the efficiency of rolling stock utilization (ie utilization of train length is maximized by using 80-foot wagons for carrying 40-foot containers),
  • overhauling the document management system where all consignments rely on computerized electronic system and documents requiring signing for legal purposes have to be signed digitally,
  • certain infrastructure upgrades for elimination of excessive speed restrictions and clearance of the running lines passing through stations for 80 km/h running,
  • network bottlenecks where congestion and delays are likely to occur is being addressed,
  • the need for new container terminals is being investigated which are capable of processing complete container trains with speedy handling,
  • to ensure things run smoothly, various legislative measures will have to be revised.

Now the target is upgrading infrastructure and rolling stock so that container trains can run at 100 km/h for much of the way, increasing the average operating speed to 1500 km in 24 hours and covering the run to Brest (the western end of the 1520mm network) in seven days by 2015.

Photo: Petr Kaderavek ©

The original of this article “Trans-Siberian in Seven Days – Addressing The Challenge” was published at Railvolution No. 2/14 (May 2014). This post is a summarized version of the original article with the special permission of Petr Kaderavek, editor of Railvolution.

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