For a long time, the best option for transporting grain crops was the railway. But due to the increase in the cost of the services and the unsuitability of a large number of trains, farmers are looking for other logistics solutions. Freight rail transport replaces road and river transport.
Freight transport by rail: the reasons for the decrease in volumes
According to 2018, the number of rail shippings decreased by 10%. According to statistics, 33.7 million tons of grain cargo was transported per year. This figure is 3.2 million tons less than it was in 2017, when the volume of rail transportation amounted to 36.9 million tons. Such volumes were achieved due to the record harvest figures, totaling 92 million tons of oilseeds, grains, and legumes. This explains the interest of agrarians to freight railway transport.
But the situation has changed and now the grain traders and farmers are massively moving away from rail traffic. There are several reasons for this situation:
1. The state of the economy. In 2018, the price of grain transportation had increased by almost 80-90%. Representatives of UZ say that this figure is not final, and the cost increase will continue. As the monopolist’s management explains, without an increase in the price of services, it is impossible to carry out infrastructure modernization processes and update trains. The optimal growth option cost is 2-2.5 times more than the current figure.
2. Insufficient railway capacity. The limitations of this type of transport do not allow to increase the volume of grain transportation. This is primarily due to the shortage of locomotives, which leads to non-compliance with schedules of the product shipping from elevators. Waggons are left on the road, which leads to the grain stagnation and disruption of logistics.
3. The limited capacity of railway stations located near the ports. This factor prevents the increase in the volume of transportation of grain to the seaports for further exports. Depreciation and obsolescence of railway infrastructure significantly reduces the speed of transportation. In addition, the risk of the accidents increases, the costs of maintaining the trains increase too. Administrative decisions that limit the transportation of goods. The railway reduced the geography of grain transportation by refusing to operate on small stations. Now the priority is given to the routes where the elevators are located, which can load 54 wagons daily. Such capacity is only 10% of the total number of enterprises.
These factors of freight transport by railway force farmers to reorient themselves and carry out logistics processes, using the services of cars and river transport. But here, there are some problems. First of all, there is a shortage of grain carriers and restrictions due to the requirements of dimensional and weight control.
But such problems can be solved, and in the future, the trend of increasing traffic by cars and river fleet will go on.