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ITE Transport and Logistics

Transport & logistics in the Urals: connecting Russia

The Urals holds an important position in Russia, geography-wise. It acts as the link between European and Asian Russia, making it a top locale for transport and logistics. The region is studded with transport links, industrial sites, and more that makes its transportation environment fertile ground to do business in.


The Urals: a bridge between east and west


Covering an area of 1.81 million square kilometres, the Urals Federal District runs from the roof of Russia  down to its border with Kazakhstan. Across its spine extends the lofty Ural Mountains, Russia’s backbone, the natural barrier between East and West.
 
Connecting its cities and population centres to the rest of the country has long been a top priority for the Ural’s regional authorities. Yekaterinburg, the region’s biggest city, has become something of a leading logistics hub, although the area is outfitted with many major road and rail links.

It’s not surprising. The region’s economy relies on some big sectors needing transportation of big cargoes. Mining, metallurgy, and manufacturing form the core of the Ural’s production output – all vital for Russia’s economic health.
 
Trade activity is heating up across the province. Between January-March 2017, total trade turnover into the Urals rose $101.1 million against 2016’s levels to hit a high of $2.2 billion. Exports enjoyed a $94.1 million bump too, totalling $1.5 billion - In-bound cargoes posted the most encouraging bump, reaching $673.3 million - $122 million higher than 2016’s total.


The Urals boasts impressive transport infrastructure


According to the Middle Ural Development Corporation, the Ural’s boasts:
•    The largest railway junction in the Urals or Siberia
•    Road transport links to all of the Russian federation’s biggest admin centres
•    Koltovo Aiport, Russia’s 3rd largest in passenger and cargo turnover
•    Over 1 million square metres of class A warehousing facilities

In 2016, several logistics centres were commissioned region-wide. This put an additional 879 hectares of additional logistics space into operation – nearly doubling to reach a peak coverage of 1,539 hectares of logistics and transportation complexes. Muranitny, a transportation and warehousing centre, is expected to enter operations in 2017 at Zarechny too – adding a further 409 hectares into the mix.

Like many regions in Russia, however, the Urals’ transport activity is clustered around one city and district in particular. In the Urals’ case, this would be the province of Sverdlovsk and the city of Yekaterinburg.


Yekaterinburg: the Urals’ transport and logistic heart


Over a million people make Yekaterinburg home. It is located on the border between Eurasia and Asia proper, a big hub on the Trans-Siberian railway, a major stop-off for trucking companies, and essentially the region’s logistics powerhouse.

It is home to Koltovo Airport. For several years, Koltovo has been recognised as one of Russia’s leading airports, including winning the 2015 award for “Best Cargo Terminal” at the prestigious Air Gateway of Russia awards. Annually, it handles up to 27.8 thousand tons of cargo a year – something expected to rise with Russia’s increasing levels of China-centric trade.

Turning to rail, the Sverdlovsk Railway is one of Russia’s three biggest trunk railroads. It connects the Urals’ industrial heartland to Russia as a whole, as well as branching off onto international networks. It passes right through Yekaterinburg, meaning the city is the Urals’ prime locale for railway-based logistics.

The Sverdlovsk line runs for 1,500km, east to west, and handles over 1,250 freight trains daily. Its freight turnover is such that it is Russia’s second, in terms of cargo turnover. 11% of all volumes shipped by Russian railways pass along this route. Daily traffic exceeds 360,000 tons, including cargoes like oil and gas commodities, fertilisers, metals, ores, and construction materials.

Again the influence of China is making itself known on the Sverdlovsk Railway. In 2016, Yekaterinburg-based Transcontainer and Russian-Chinese joint venture Swift welcomed the first train on anew regular route in the city. The train, carrying fifty containers from deep in China, eventually makes it way to Western Europe along this route. 

Services such as this, which slash costs and transit times, will likely make Yekaterinburg even more important as a rail-freight base. $16 million is being spent on essential station and signalling upgrades along the length of the Sverdlovsk, aimed at ensuring smoother cargo carrying operations.

Regionally, Sverdlovsk is criss-crossed by a road network of 33,800 km. This total includes 588km of federal highways, 11,100km of regional roads, and 22,200km of local roads (including urban road networks). Yekaterinburg itself is the start/end point of Highways P-351 and P-354, linking it to other major urban areas like Kurgan and Tyumen. 

Trucking and road transport controls a large chunk of Russia’s logistics market, servicing all industries but especially FMCG and retail. Sverdlovsk and Yekaterinburg ranks fourth in Russian total wholesales turnover and fifth in retail sales – suggesting that significant truckloads of goods pass along the region’s roads annually.
 
Truckloads are likely to get bigger. The Volga Transit project, a proposed corridor linking European and Asian Russia, is set to pass through the Urals and Yekaterinburg specifically. Construction kicked off in 2016, and is due for completion in 2030. By this time, the new Middle Volga federal highway will have been built – reducing the road distance between Moscow and Yekaterinburg by 300km – opening up both cities for increased trucking traffic.


Discover the potential of transport & logistics in Russia’s Far East at TransUral


TransUral is a specialised exhibition for transport, logistics and infrastructure. The event is a unique platform for companies interested in the Urals’ transport and logistics market. 

Taking part in the show is your chance to get your services and solutions seen by a wide audience of international and regional specialists, all while they are looking to source new partners. It is the perfect place to expand your Russian business operations.

If you like more information on the show, contact us today to learn about how you can take part.

 

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