The 800m-long train, with a weight of 3000 tonnes, carrying high-value chemical products was launched by Swiss intermodal operator Hupac with Chinese chemical producer Markor.

“We plan to cover the distance of 8000 km in 18 days, crossing borders and fulfilling customs procedures of six different countries,” says Hupac production director, Mr Silvio Ferrari. Exchange points for the Russian broad gauge are Dostyk in the east and Sestokay in the west. Railway companies involved in the project are China Rail, Kazakh Railways (KTZ), Russian Railways (RZD), Belarus Railways (BC), Lithuanian Railways (LG) and German Rail (DB).

Hupac has been following a strategy of developing east-west links for some years as a natural extension of its home market in Europe. The company opened offices in Moscow in 2011 and in Shanghai in 2016, as well as acquiring its own rolling stock for the Russian 1520mm-gauge network.