Container Freight Operators Protest Against Gondola Wagons

In response to the experiment of Russian Railways, which tests the transportation of containers in open wagons, container operators strongly oppose and threaten the carrier with troubles.

The Eurasian Union of Rail Freight Transport Participants has sent a letter to Oleg Belozertsev, Director General of Russian Railways, with a request to once again consider the issue of using gondola cars for container transportation.

According to the authors of the letter, this should not be done at once for several reasons.

A significant part of cargo is now transported in containers, and they, in turn, are transported on special fitting platforms.

At the same time, the logistics are carefully thought out, the platforms roll empty in no more than 4% of cases. Replacing them with gondola cars will lead to the rupture of logistics rings, and even to the use of vehicles, which is unprofitable for Russian Railways.

The use of open-top wagons (and of which the Russian Railways fleet mainly consists) will lead to a decrease in the production of fitting platforms, which means investment in Russian heavy engineering.

Unloading and loading will take longer (on average +30 minutes per carriage). This can lead to dire consequences. Indeed, for example, the port of Nakhodka (Primorsky Territory) loads / unloads up to 400 wagons per day. If these processes take longer, a collapse will occur.

Finally, transportation in open wagons is less safe and more expensive. During the passage of the test train (gondola cars with containers), important elements of the cars have already been stolen. Moreover, in winter, gondola cars will have to be cleaned of snow and ice.
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Are there any arguments in defense of gondola cars?

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The owner of NLMK Vladimir Lisin, who in many ways lobbied for the idea of ​​using gondola cars, believes that such arguments are enough.

One of them is that due to the ban on the carriage of containers by gondola wagons adopted in 2014, Russia is in a less advantageous position than other countries (Finland, Mongolia, CIS).

There is no clear justification for such a ban. In the end, each shipper could independently choose in which wagons his containers will be transported. And if only fitting platforms are suitable for him, there will be no problems.

At the same time, gondola cars could be more profitable for someone. The prohibition of their use does not allow market laws to operate.

At the same time, experts say, it is the fitting platforms that are now used in most important areas of cargo transportation.

And the production of such platforms is only growing. For example, over the past period of 2021, 98% more of them were produced than over the same period last year.

Therefore, even if gondola cars are allowed to transport containers, this will most likely not affect the main cargo flows.