Coal train leaves on trial run to Russian port

The first trainload of coal from the Mongolian Gobi left on Thursday on a trial run all the way from Choir to the Vostochny port in Russia. The coal will first go to Naushki, 638 km from Choir, where Russian Railway will take over from Ulaanbaatar Railway for the final 4,041 km of the total 4,679-km journey. The Infrastructure Development LLC is responsible for the epoch-making run.

Among those who watched the train leave Choir were D.Jigjidnyamaa, Acting Head of Ulaanbaatar Railway; V.I. Yakunin, President of Russian Railway; V.V.Morozov and L.Khangai, respectively Executive Director and Managing Council Chief of the Russia-Mongolia joint venture, Infrastructure Development; Russian Ambassador

V.V.Samoilenko; South Korean Ambassador John Il, and Japanese Ambassador Takyo Kidokoro. The last two represent countries that are likely to be the end buyers of Mongolian coal.

The train carries 2,000 tons of coal from Tavantolgoi. After a year of talks Russian Railway has agreed on a 52% discount on freight tariff, making it three times cheaper than the rates charged by China. Ulaanbaatar Railway, however, has not lowered its rates that were raised on September 25.

The trial run is to check if international transportation regulations can be met, and to try out the loading and unloading process, and to see how much time all the paperwork takes. Altogether one million tons of coal will be transported this way every year.

Yakunin noted that the locomotive being used for the trial is of the most advanced type. Upgrading of Ulaanbaatar Railway will be needed to allow easy rides for 30 such locomotives planned to be used for coal transportation. The upgrading work will be done by Russian Railway once it gets loans for this from Russian banks. Once Russian Railway has laid new tracks over a 108-km stretch, the train could travel 120 km an hour between Mandal and Davaa.

Yakunin yesterday called on Prime Minister S.Batbold, who referred to the significance of the trial run, and stressed the need to overhaul the entire technology used by Ulaanbaatar Railway so that its operations can reach international standards. Yakunin informed the Premier of plans in this respect. He also hinted that the next head of Ulaanbaatar Railway could be a Mongolian and mentioned three names from which one could be chosen. They are L.Khangai, a former Ambassador to Russia; L.Khaltar, Deputy Director for Social Issues with the railway, and T.Ochiukhuu, Deputy Minister of Finance.
The Russian team also attended a meeting of the railway’s General Committee.


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