From Volume 38, Issue 39 of EIR Online, Published October 7, 2011

Global Economic News

Russia Tests Express Container Trains

Sept. 28 (EIRNS)—Two subsidiaries of Russian Railways, RZD Logistics and TransContainer, are in the process of testing express container trains on the route between Yekaterinburg and St. Petersburg, a distance of 2,300 km by railroad. According to Russian Railways president Vladimir Yakunin, the company's primary objective in this field is to increase the competitiveness of rail transportation in container traffic.

The first container train left Yekaterinburg at 4:20 PM GMT on Sept. 9, and arrived in St. Petersburg at 12:20 am on Sept. 12. The train covered 2,300 km in 68 hours. The operation of such trains is an important step in the introduction of cutting-edge transportation and logistics services, said Yakunin.

The two cities are on the Trans-Siberian route which RZD knows will be vital to its success if it is to compete with ocean freight routes. The route has the capability to link Berlin with Beijing, and RZD openly states the importance of regular container shuttles traversing this section of the network.

Morocco Lays Cornerstone for African First High Speed Railway

Sept. 29 (EIRNS)—On Sept. 29, the Moroccan government laid the foundation stone for the first high-speed railway in Africa. The ceremony for launching the high-speed line, which will connect Tangier, Rabat, and Casablanca, took place in Tangier, and was attended by King Mohammed VI of Morocco; French President Nicolas Sarkozy; Saudi Prince Megrin Ben Abdulaziz Al Saud; Karim Ghellab, Minister for Equipment and Transport in Morocco, among others.

The Tangier-Casablanca line is scheduled to enter service in 2015, cutting the travel time from nearly six hours now, to just over two hours. It will eventually be extended to Marrakesh and Agadir, Moroccan officials said. Financing for the $4 billion project has been arranged, with France providing a EU920 million loan and other loans from Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait. The technology is from the French group Alstom, which will provide Morocco with 14 high-speed trains.

The project could be extended to Algeria, which has begun upgrading its rail network to include a relatively high-speed line from the Moroccan border that will link it into the Algerian grid. Tunisia has also been upgrading its network. Libya, which has no railways, had plans prior to the overthrow of Qaddafi, in which the Russians were supposed to build a 500 km line along the Mediterranean coast. From Libya, a line could link into the Egyptian network. From Tangier, there are proposals for building a 40 km tunnel beneath the Strait of Gibraltar, for which both Spain and Morocco have commissioned studies.

All rights reserved © 2011 EIRNS