Russian Railways Ministry lures foreign freight onto Trans-Siberian Railway

The customs procedure has been simplified in order to attract more foreign freight onto the Trans-Siberian railway. As a Rosbalt correspondent was informed by the press office of the Russian Railways Ministry, this was announced by First Deputy Railways Minister Vadim Morozov at the presentation The Trans-Siberian railway in the 21st century: prospects for developing Russian-Finnish ties in the sphere of railway transportation in Helsinki yesterday. Mr Morozov said a number of other steps have been taken to simplify the customs procedure when crossing the Russian border. For example, in order to save time a simplified system has been introduced for declaring freight that is being transported on the Trans-Siberian railway. As a result freight containers are now only kept waiting for a few hours instead of 3-5 days.

The deputy minister pointed out that transportation tariffs are now lower than ever. In Mr Morozov's opinion, these steps have ensured that freight is now transported between Europe and Asia twice as fast on the Trans-Siberian railway as it takes by ship.

Construction of the Trans-Siberian railway began in 1891 to connect Eastern Russia with the Far East and Siberia. The length of the line is 9288 kilometres from Moscow to Vladivostok, which makes it the longest railway line in the world. The Russian Ministry completed the electrification of the railway in 2002. According to the ministry's forecasts, the total volume of freight on the Trans-Siberian railway will rise by 50% in 2003.

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