International Transportation


International Transportation

International transportation can be a complex mode of serious shipping or it can be a simple way of moving the cargo from point A to point B. In the end, transportation is to bring your product from one end to the other in the most cost efficient way and in a timely manner. Most companies prefer to deal with logistic companies who can offer combinations of shipping methods. As an importer, depending on your industry needs, you may require different methods of cargo transportation.

Trans-Siberian railway

The Trans-Siberian Railway is the name given to the rail routes that traverse Siberia from Moscow. Routes not trains, note; there’s no such thing as the “Trans-Siberian Express”.

A ride on the Trans-Siberian Railway is one of the few true adventures remaining.  The route from Moscow’s Yaroslavsky Station to Vladivostok spans two continents, 16 major rivers, six federal states and almost a hundred cities. Even today the bridges across the Amur, Yenisei and Ob are unique – they are the largest river bridges on the Asian continent. In total there are 485 bridges. It is the backbone of the Russian rail network and the connection between the Asian and European railway networks. It’s the most travelled railway in the world, and much of Russia’s oil is transported along it.  While the population is largely ethnically Russian along the whole route, more and more of various Asian ethnic groups will be seen as you approach the Pacific coast.

The people you most likely will learn to know are your fellow passengers. Especially those who travel alone will very likely get to meet locals in the compartment. It’s a fantastic opportunity to get to know Russians, especially if you know the language a bit. Remember that most people do not speak a word of English, so bring a Russian phrasebook. An automatic translator in a smartphone or tablet may become an indispensable tool for understanding the locals.

Travel in Siberia before the railway was a desperate affair. Early routes, trade and settlement were north-south, using the great rivers to sail in from the Arctic during the brief summer. Attempts were made to build an east-west highway from the 16th & 17th Century, but early road-building was no match for the harsh climate and logistic problems. Meanwhile the great natural resources of Siberia remained untapped, and economically the east was looking to China not Russia, so the tsars then the Soviets persisted. But not until 2015 did Russia have a fully-paved, all-weather highway coast to coast. And even now that the highway is open, freight and people are moved via the railroad much more than via road – especially over the vast distances that are often necessary to get from anywhere to anywhere in Siberia.

A railway was a better prospect for shifting heavy freight, and construction of the Trans-sib railway began in May 1891 from both west and east. The first decade was a story of muddy heroism, with over 7000 km of railway built – no other railway has been built so fast. This despite all the hills, moors and swamps, despite the iron-hard frozen ground, impenetrable taiga and great rivers to be crossed, all with 19th Century equipment and know-how – and in a country often viewed as hopelessly backwards by contemporaries. There were up to 60,000 workers building the railway and many lives were lost. The whole 9288 km railway was completed in 1916, with electrification completed in 2002. It changed the face of Russia, which now became an Asian as much as a European nation. Siberia and Far Eastern Russia saw an economic boom, and a massive migration to these regions – not always voluntary. Towns along the railway, such as Omsk, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, and Irkutsk, grew to large industrial cities. Equally, other places withered: Tomsk was intended to be on the Trans-sib but improved engineering allowed a shorter route via Novosibirsk, so instead it became a dumping-place for dissidents, a back-water, and its old town is better preserved as a result. To give just one example of the importance even contemporaries put on the railway, the French newspaper “La France” wrote upon completion: “After the discovery of America and the construction of the Suez canal, history knows no other event that had such massive direct and indirect consequences than the construction of the Trans-Siberian railway.”

There are four different types of long distance trains. Firmennye and skory are fast trains, the former offering a higher level of comfort. Passazhirskiy  are slower and less comfortable, whereas pochtovo-bagazhniy are super-slow and primarily designed for post delivery. A higher train number means a lower train category and less service on the train. The train category is written out in the schedule. There are also local trains (Often called “Elektrichka” due to being the first electric trains in common use in Russia), but they do not cover the entirety of the line (often connecting a city and its suburbs along the line) and traveling along those would make the whole thing even more of an adventure – akin to trying to cover all of Europe on commuter rail and local buses.

Canadian national railway

Canadian National Railway is a North American Class I railroad operating the largest rail network in Canada and the only transcontinental network in North America, primarily serving Canada and the Midwestern and Southern U.S. with a rail network of 20,600 route miles of track and more than 24,000 employees. The railroad, which offers integrated transportation services in rail, intermodal, trucking, freight forwarding, warehousing, and distribution, reported 2013 revenue of C$10.57 billion.

The Montreal, Canada-based railroad was created by the Federal Government of Canada in 1918, bringing together several railways that had become bankrupt and fallen into federal government hands. CN was privatized by the federal government in 1995.

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