A rail cargo transport route is expected to be officially developed between Russia and Japan, according to the Japan News. It will become the “third distribution channel” for the two countries, after sea and air routes.
Cargo will be transported via the 9,289 kilometer-long (5,772 miles) Trans-Siberian Railway. The longest railway line in the world connects Moscow with the Russian Far East with a travel time of seven days. The Trans-Siberian railway was built between 1891 and 1916, and spans a record eight time zones.
According to the paper’s sources, the testing of the Trans-Siberian Railway may begin in the run-up to the fourth Eastern Economic Forum (September 11-13) in Russia’s Vladivostok. Up to 10 companies – mainly Japanese distribution firms – are considering participating in the test. They will study factors such as the cost and duration of transportation, administrative procedures needed for customs, and import and export processes.
Current freight transport between Japan and Russia mainly uses sea and air routes. It takes between 53 and 62 days to transport freight from Japan to Moscow using a sea route that crosses the Indian Ocean. According to Japan’s Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, with the new route transportation will be reduced to 20-27 days. The costs could also be reduced by up to 40 percent.
Statistics from the Japanese Finance Ministry showed that in 2017 the country’s total export volume to Russia was worth about 673.7 billion yen ($6 billion), with automobiles accounting for about 44 percent and auto parts for about 12 percent of exports.
The sides hope that improved efficiency will lead to more exports of auto parts and other industrial products. It’s technically possible to transport crude oil and natural gas by rail as well, the sources said.
There are also plans to expand the route to Europe via Moscow. If realized, the Trans-Siberian Railway could become a major trade route between Japan and Europe. “If economic ties between Japan and Russia are reinforced through an invigoration of transport links, we can expect a positive impact on resolving the northern territories issue,” a Japanese government source was quoted as saying.