Frankfurt / Main, 09 July 2015. At its general assembly in Frankfurt in June, GETO (the Association of European Transsiberian Forwarders and Operators) regarded the balance concerning the development of rail traffics via the land bridge between Europe and China and other Asian countries as positive. “Progress has been made concerning transit times, the reliability, number and variety of products offered, as well as in the cooperation of all parties involved”, stated GETO President Hans Reinhard. GETO members have successfully contributed to the progression of Eurasian traffics. Thus, Reinhard emphasized, they were involved in the container block trains Chengdu-Lodz, Suzhou-Warsaw, Zhengzhou-Hamburg, Wuhan-Pardubice, Wuhan-Gorszow, and Yiwu-Madrid. According to GETO, also transit transports from and to Central Asia, China, and to other Far East destinations have lately been showing remarkable stability and were generally able to continue on their upward course, in spite of the political turbulences between Western Europe and Russia, and the difficult situation of the Russian economy. There are some problems in those sectors where the products are on the Russian embargo list; in transit, they are subject to strict controls.
On the whole, GETO member companies see good development potential also in the future for rail traffic along the land bridge. The growing role of Kazakhstan as the hub for transports going to China was emphasized at the meeting. The main advantage of the land bridge route, the aspect that customers find most attractive, is the short transit time most of all, as GETO members point out; which is why possibilities to further reduce delivery times needed to be looked into. To this end, projects have already been initiated by the Railways in China, Central Asia, and Russia. Faster transit times and more flexibility – this is what GETO companies wish for especially from the European railways. In the competition between transport modes, underlines the GETO assembly, rail freight is not first and foremost compared to sea freight - markedly slower but as to price: unbeatable – but airfreight, which is more expensive than rail freight. An important, short-term task for all parties involved in the land bridge traffics is now the further reduction of transit times. As to the newly introduced activities of OTLK, the common operator of the railways of the Customs Union, there are different opinions among the GETO members. While some fear a redirection of the existing goods flows in favor of OTLK, others hope to be able to purchase services at more advantageous rates and to see shorter transit times owing to a better coordination and management of the wagon stock.
At this time, GETO, an association of mostly small and medium sized forwarding enterprises mainly active in and committed to East-West rail freight transportation, counts 15 member companies. The association aims to increase its position in East-West rail traffics in the coming years. “Now it is no longer only about a contribution of our association to the positive development of the land bridge”, Reinhard explains, “we also want to support our members in their bilateral rail traffics with Russia, so that rail freight does not end up as the loser in this field.” Contrary to the positive development of the land bridge, bilateral rail freight traffic between Western Europe and Russia is strongly affected by the sanctions and embargo regulations and has to compete, moreover, against the enormously growing competitive pressure from road transports along these trade lanes.
GETO members fear that with a further extension of the political tensions, bilateral rail traffic, already threatened in its existence, will be in serious jeopardy.
GETO is a member of the Coordinating Council on Transsiberian Transports (CCTT) in Moscow; CCTT is headed by Vladimir Yakounin, the President of the Russian Railway OAO RZD. GETO Honorary President Werner Albert is at the same time founding member of CCTT and has been its vice chairman since the 1990s. GETO President Hans Reinhard is Vice General Secretary for Europe of the CCTT.