• China-Europe freight trains make 10,000 trips since 2011

  • Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.
Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.

Moderators: Komachi, David Benton

  by george matthews
 
Remarkably boring pictures. One would be enough. However, I did notice one interesting fact: the containers are mounted on platforms so that they can easily be switched from one train to another. Am I right in assuming that all the containers are lifted on to broad gauge wagons when they reach Russia? And back again when they get to Germany or Poland?
  by David Benton
 
Some of the links on the page have more interesting videos .
I'm not sure if they change the containers at break of gauge , or change the bogies . I suspect changing the containers would be faster.
  by kato
 
Whether they switch and where depends a bit on the company. Europe - China routes are principally run by two groups, one led by German Schenker/DB, the other by Austrian RCG/ÖBB with support from French Captrain/SNCF.

RCG has the containers handled by German company RTSB, which in its own company portrayal notes that they transship at Brest/Belarus and at Dostyk/Kazakhstan (southern route) or Erlian/China (northern route), i.e. that they load the containers onto another train there.

See also these two images which i can't seem to be able to directly embed:

https://abload.de/img/transship-rtsbxjd2c.jpg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
https://abload.de/img/transship-rtsb2f0c95.jpg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Somewhat interestingly RTSB also organizes armed guards on the broad-gauge section of the trip...
  by johnthefireman
 
David Benton wrote:I suspect changing the containers would be faster.
That would depend on the type of rolling stock. With automatic gauge changing bogies (not sure of the exact technical term) I believe a whole train can change gauge in minutes as it runs through the gauge-changing equipment.
  by george matthews
 
johnthefireman wrote:
David Benton wrote:I suspect changing the containers would be faster.
That would depend on the type of rolling stock. With automatic gauge changing bogies (not sure of the exact technical term) I believe a whole train can change gauge in minutes as it runs through the gauge-changing equipment.
My only experience of gauge changing was on a train from Spain to France. I was in a sleeper. I was vaguely aware of the carriage being lifted, while presumably standard bogies were slid into position. I don't know whether the seated carriages had their bogies changed or whether the passengers had to move into French carriages. When I woke up in France there was a french dining car serving breakfast.
  by johnthefireman
 
george matthews wrote:My only experience of gauge changing was on a train from Spain to France. I was in a sleeper. I was vaguely aware of the carriage being lifted, while presumably standard bogies were slid into position.
That would be one method, I suppose, but with modern gauge-changing equipment there is no need to lift the coach or wagon and insert different bogies. The axles are designed to expand or contract to the correct gauge as the train goes slowly through the gauge-changing equipment. I have experienced that in both directions travelling between France and Spain about 15 years ago. You don't feel any sensation at all.
  by talltim
 
george matthews wrote:Remarkably boring pictures. One would be enough. However, I did notice one interesting fact: the containers are mounted on platforms so that they can easily be switched from one train to another. Am I right in assuming that all the containers are lifted on to broad gauge wagons when they reach Russia? And back again when they get to Germany or Poland?
I can't see what you mean by platforms? Could you expand on that?
  by george matthews
 
talltim wrote:
george matthews wrote:Remarkably boring pictures. One would be enough. However, I did notice one interesting fact: the containers are mounted on platforms so that they can easily be switched from one train to another. Am I right in assuming that all the containers are lifted on to broad gauge wagons when they reach Russia? And back again when they get to Germany or Poland?
I can't see what you mean by platforms? Could you expand on that?
The pictures show that the containers rest on the type of wagon from which they can easily be lifted. I don't know what is the right description. If a broad gauge train was alongside a standard gauge train the containers could be easily transferred on to the neighbouring train, perhaps with a movable lifting device, which can move along the length of the trains. Since this is a regular service, and the Chinese are well organised, I assume that such a procedure is possible. I think it unlikely that Chinese vehicles arrive in Europe. Could the Chinese Standard gauge system link up with Iran to connect with Europe entirely on SG tracks? It would probably need a route through Afghanistan. Not very likely at present given the continuing civil war there, and indeed the hostility Iran provokes to the west. So the present route via Russia is probably the best that can be arranged at present, despite its being dependent on Russian goodwill, which might be withdrawn.
  by johnthefireman
 
george matthews wrote:The pictures show that the containers rest on the type of wagon from which they can easily be lifted.
Isn't that true of all containerised transport? Indeed isn't that one of the main points of containerisation?
the hostility Iran provokes to the west
Without getting into politics, it might be more accurate to say "the hostility of the USA to Iran". Much of "the west", ie Europe, is not hostile to Iran and is currently trying to further improve relations following the signing of the nuclear deal.
  by george matthews
 
johnthefireman wrote:
george matthews wrote:The pictures show that the containers rest on the type of wagon from which they can easily be lifted.
Isn't that true of all containerised transport? Indeed isn't that one of the main points of containerisation?
the hostility Iran provokes to the west
Without getting into politics, it might be more accurate to say "the hostility of the USA to Iran". Much of "the west", ie Europe, is not hostile to Iran and is currently trying to further improve relations following the signing of the nuclear deal.
Any vital economic activity dependant on the Middle East is impractical if it needs peace. A rail route across Iran and Turkey could be seen as liable to disruption if fighting or terrorism affects the track. In a peaceful world a freight route from China to Europe would make sense in the snow-free territory south of Russia. And it could be standard gauge all the way. But peace is unlikely, especially in Afghanistan. Could a route be developed even further south, through Pakistan to Iran? That would need a route through Tibet. Maybe the Chinese could build it but there would certainly be practical problems for operating at very great heights - and low air pressure. What about a route through Bangladesh and India (and Pakistan)? It would be longer and there is the problem of gauges and too many frontier crossings across borders where there is chronic hostility. I am sure that people who devise these plans have considered all the problems and settled on the Russian route, despite its difficulties.
  by kato
 
george matthews wrote:Could the Chinese Standard gauge system link up with Iran to connect with Europe entirely on SG tracks? It would probably need a route through Afghanistan.
It's not really feasible to build a direct rail route from China to Afghanistan through the mountains (along the Khyber pass). Existing routes run through Tajikistan and Uzbekistan on Russian broad gauge, ending at the North Afghan cities where the gauge switches back to standard gauge. Given that the rail from Hairatan on the border then only continues for another 75 km currently the Chinese also end their current freight trains to Afghanistan in Hairatan and ship on with trucks from there.
  by george matthews
 
kato wrote:
george matthews wrote:Could the Chinese Standard gauge system link up with Iran to connect with Europe entirely on SG tracks? It would probably need a route through Afghanistan.
It's not really feasible to build a direct rail route from China to Afghanistan through the mountains (along the Khyber pass). Existing routes run through Tajikistan and Uzbekistan on Russian broad gauge, ending at the North Afghan cities where the gauge switches back to standard gauge. Given that the rail from Hairatan on the border then only continues for another 75 km currently the Chinese also end their current freight trains to Afghanistan in Hairatan and ship on with trucks from there.
I agree that planning a rail route through Afghanistan looks impractical, given the chronic disturbance there. The self-described Central government there does not control much of the territory. Various dissident guerrilla groups control quite a lot the country. Solving that problem and bringing peace to the country looks unlikely in the foreseeable future. But a route through Iran also looks unlikely to be reliable.

All these problems make a passenger route to China still reliant on passing through Russia. Better in the Summer I would think.

I have often thought of visiting Afghanistan for several reasons but have never felt up to confronting the problems. There was a period of relative peace there in the 1960s but that ended when the monarchy was overthrown, mainly by the Soviet Russians and their local allies.
  by BandA
 
johnthefireman wrote:
george matthews wrote:
the hostility Iran provokes to the west

Without getting into politics
, it might be more accurate to say "the hostility of the USA to Iran". Much of "the west", ie Europe, is not hostile to Iran and is currently trying to further improve relations following the signing of the nuclear deal.
Without getting into politics? Emphasis added.

Would freight crossing Iran, such as from China or Pakistan be subject to US sanctions?