The first experimental freight train that was launched on the so-called "New Silk Road" on 15 January 2016 returned to Ukraine on 17 April, the Interfax Ukraine news agency reports, citing the press service of the Ukrzaliznytsia public railway company.
The train departed from the Dostyk station (Kazakhstan) with empty containers on 7 April and was expected to arrive in Chornomorsk (previously known as Illichivsk) on 19 April.
According to Ukrzaliznytsia, the frequency of the train’s operation is determined by the market demand for such a service. The cargoes that can potentially be redirected toward transportation by the container train are currently being studied and the issue of creating a regular service is being considered.
"The capacities of the participants in the project allow a container train that will transport 1,000 tons of cargo weekly in each direction to be sent without hindrance,” Ukrzaliznytsia said.
The average speed of the train, the timetable on routes from Ukraine’s western border to the Chornomorsk-Ferry station is about 1,150 kilometers per day.
As reported, the train reached the Chinese border on the 16th day of its journey (during the night of 30-31 January 2016). It traveled by ferry to Georgia, from Georgia to Azerbaijan, again by ferry from Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan, and through the territory of Kazakhstan to China. Ukrzaliznytsia also said that success of this project required development of a single through rate. In addition, Ukraine needs to officially join the Trans-Caspian international transport route.
Newly appointed Minister of Infrastructure Volodymyr Omelian expects the project for rail transportation of containers via the Trans-Caspian route to China to be finalized in May.