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25th International exhibition for transport and logistics services and technologies
13 - 15 April 2020 • Russia, Moscow, Crocus Expo, Pavilion 1

3 Russian transport corridors you need to know about

Russia is criss-crossed by multiple transport corridors, carrying hundreds of millions of tons of freight every year. Let’s take a look at the chief transportation routes, plus some upcoming developments, to get you excited for this unique, yet huge, logistics market.
3 Russian transport corridors you need to know about

Russia’s 3 most important transport corridors

It’s these that carry simply enormous freight volumes every year, or soon will do, helping power transport & logistics in Russia to exciting new heights.

Trans-Siberian Corridor

Freight train on Russia's Trans-Siberia transport corridor

Spanning 9,289km, the Trans-Siberian Corridor is an engineering marvel. Since its construction in the early 1900s, this rail route has become a logistics behemoth, responsible for ferrying millions of tons of cargo annually.
As the world’s longest railway, the Trans-Siberian corridor primarily handles containerised freight from China to Finland.
It also carries considerable quantities of bulk commodities. For instance, the Trans-Siberian railway cuts through the majority of Russia’s coal producing regions, while cargo trains riding these extensive rails carry 20% of Russia’s refined oil and 25% of timber loads. All told, 80% of Russia’s industrial potential and natural resources can be found along the route.
50% of Russia’s transit and international freight is carried via the Trans-Siberian corridor.
Its almost unbelievable length lets the Trans-Siberian route stretches from Europe to Asia. In the West, rail links connect to Scandinavia via Finland and to the EU through the Baltics. Far to the east, the corridor connects Russia to China, Mongolia, and Korea.
The Trans-Siberia Corridor’s main container interchanges are:
• Nakhodka-Vostochnaya Station – Martsevo station
• Nakhodka – Moscow
• Nakhodka – Brest
• Zabaykalsk/Nakhodka – Kaliningrad/Klaipeda
• Beijing – Moscow
• Kaliningrad/Klaipeda – Moscow
• Helsinki – Moscow
• Berlin – Moscow
• Brest – Ulan Bator
• Hohhot – Duisburg
• Baltic countries – Kazakhstan/Central Asia
• Nakhodka – Alma Ata/Uzbekistan.
• Brest – Alma Ata
Despite the huge size and scope of the Trans-Siberian railway, container transit times clock in at between 9-11 days – not bad, considering an entire continent is being crossed.

Northern Sea Route

Ships on the Northern Sea Route
Russian as a nation is no stranger to extreme cold, but, no matter how low the temperature, it doesn’t let the weather slow it down. That’s why, with new mapping and ice-breaking technology, it is opening up the Northern Sea Route for container shipping.
The Northern Sea Route skirts through Russia’s arctic waters, presenting a new way of moving vast loads via ship from Europe to Asia and visa versa. The shipping lane has been explored before, but it’s only now the technology is becoming available to make the route a safe, viable option for containerised transportation.
Smarter mapping software has also made these previously risky waters less treacherous for navigators.
What are the advantages behind the route? Shorter transit times for freight headed to the Far East. Traversing the Barents, Kara, Laptev, East Siberian, and Chuckchi Seas, the Northern Sea Route can slice up to 60% off the typical time when using the Suez Canal.
See below for transportation timescales from Kirkenes and Murmansk:
• Shanghai, China – 19 days
• Busan, South Korea – 18 days 
• Yokohama, Japan – 17 Days
Using the current Suez route, transit times look like this:
• Shanghai, China – 37 days
• Busan, South Korea – 38 days 
• Yokohama, Japan – 39 days
That’s an average saving of 20 days per journey.
According to data from the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, the Northern Sea Route is now ice-free, essentially meaning vessels should be able to pass through uninhibited on their eastward journey. In areas where ice can be an issue, Russia has designed special nuclear-powered ice breakers to clear the route for merchant vessels.
In 2017, a total of 94 ships were in operation across the route. Oil & gas cargoes were the order of the day. Russia is investing heavily in Arctic hydrocarbons exploration and production, so ships are mostly moving liquid natural gas from production sites in Yamal and Novy to Asia’s energy-hungry markets.

North-South Transport Corridor

Container ship on the Indian Ocean

With Russia aiming for $30bn in bilateral trade with India by 2025, the drive is on to develop easier, faster multi-modal routes between the pair. The 7,200km long North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) is forecast to be the key driver for mutual trade between the pair.
3,000km of the route covers Russian territory, as well as some of its partners in the CIS. From the starting point in Delhi to its final destination in St. Petersburg, the NSTC is promising that winning combo of shorter journey times and cheaper logistics for all partners. 
Russia officially joins the route via the Caspian Sea, but NSTC’s scope is trans-Asian. As mentioned above, cargoes are loaded onto ships in Delhi. Freight loads are then moved to Iran via its ports in the Persian Gulf and loaded onto either trucks or trains before heading to the Caspian Sea. 
Once again loaded onto cargo ships, freight is then shipped to Astrakhan in Southern Russia before being transferred to rail for transportation to St. Petersburg via Moscow. 
Important routes on the NSTC are as follows:
Trans-Caspian - Maritime transport via the ports of Astrakhan, Olya and Makhachkala
Eastern branch line – A direct rail link through Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan with access to Iran's railway network via the Tejen – Serakhs border crossing
Western branch line -Towards Astrakhan – Makhachkala – Samura, then through Azerbaijan with access to Iran via the Astara border station, or from Samura across Azerbaijan and Armenia with access to Iran through the Julfa border station

We're looking at another fairly substantial decrease in travel costs and times with the NTSC's full introduction. Compared with current routes, again via Suez, shippers can see a 40% reduction in costs alongside 30% speedier transport times once the route comes fully online. A succesful dry run was launched in 2017, hinting at an imminent launch of the full corridor.
While India, Iran and Russia are set to get the most from the NTSC, it’s a cross-regional network. As well as the big three Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Belarus, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Oman, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Estonia, are all participants in the scheme. 
Subsequently, the NSTC means greater levels of Russian and Indian freight can move throughout Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia.

Further international freight corridors developing in Russia

Freight train in Far Eastern Russia

The above three transportation routes are expected to add billions of tons-to-kilometres throughout Russia and its key partners. However, they don’t tell the whole story. There are some big projects in the pipeline, poised to improve Russia’s transport & logistics capacity even higher.
The chief of these are the Primorye 1 & 2 corridors in the Far East. As much as 45 million tons of cargo could pass along them by 2030, as well as a massive 100 million TEUs. Their end destination? China of course.
Russia and China have pledged to double bilateral trade from now until 2020, so the Primorye twins will be instrumental in achieving this lofty goal. These two in-development freight avenues are part of a regional $43bn spending programme designed to improve cargo flows between both trading partners. 
Development of Russian Pacific Ports and Far East maritime facilities is also being factored in China’s neo-Silk Road “One Road One Belt” initiative.

For instance, Zarubino in the border zone between China, North Korea and Russia, is being expanded as part of the Binhai 2 international corridor.
Asia-Europe containerised freight leapt 60% in 2017 compared with the previous year, hitting 415,000 TEUs. 2018 continued this upward trend, rising 26.5% in Q1.
Russia, with its continent-spanning size and sophisticated infrastructure, will remain a key player in this going forward. By 2020, as many as 1 million TEUs could be transported on the Vladivostok-Moscow section of the Trans-Siberia railway – so keep watching Russian rail routes to find those cargo opportunities.
You can also find them at Russia’s only dedicated transport & logistics event: TransRussia.

TransRussia: Russia’s no.1 international transport & logistics exhibition

TransRussia is the place to meet nearly 17,000 cargo owners, freight forwarders, retailers and others in need of transportation services and technologies on the Russian market.
79% of visitors purchase as a result of the exhibition and a further 71% of visitors only attend TransRussia amongst industry events. If it’s exclusively you’re after, you’ll find it at TransRussia.
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