RUSSIAN Railways (RZD), Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) subsidiary Rail Cargo Group (RCG) and CER Cargo Holding (Hungary) have signed a trilateral agreement to establish a rail freight joint venture designed to make rail transport between Europe and Asia even more attractive.

The joint venture, which acts as one of the elements of RZD’s foreign business strategy, aims to capitalise on the sustainable growth in trade between China and Europe and provide competitive and reliable rail services transporting cargo between China, Russia and the European Union (EU). It will also act as a freight-forwarder and logistics coordinator of freight transported from Chinese provinces to southern Europe and the Balkans, operating through Russia and Hungary.

The agreement was signed in Budapest on December 14 by CER Cargo Holding chairman, Mr Laszlo Horvath, CEO of RZD Logistics, Mr Dmitry Murev, and RCG CEO, Mr Clemens Först, in a ceremony also attended by Russian deputy minister of transport, Mr Vladimir Tokarev, first deputy CEO of RZD Mr Sergey Pavlov, deputy prime minister of Hungary and minister of finance, Mr Mihaly Varga, and Hungary’s minister of innovation and technology Mr Laszlo Palkovics.

Först explained on Twitter that the joint venture will seek to transform the route via Ukraine and Hungary into a second, major axis that would lead to new capacity, fast transport times and efficient onward distribution in Europe. “The land bridge between Europe and Asia is of enormous importance in connecting the respective communities,” he tweeted. “Trade lines lead to prosperity, economic growth and ultimately also connect people, thereby helping to bridge political divides.”