Forum “Strategic Partnership 1520“: The New Silk Road is within reach

More than 400 international representatives from the rail industry discussed the expansion of the Eurasian transport corridor and the modernization of rail infrastructure at the forum.

Vienna, 22nd February 2018 – Today, the International Railway Forum "Strategic Partnership 1520: Central Europe" in Vienna officially came to an end. For two days, more than 400 international representatives from the rail industry, politics and business discussed the development and modernization of the rail infrastructure in the broad-gauge countries and the expansion of the East-West rail corridor. Forum participants included Austrian Minister of Transport, Innovation and Technology, Norbert Hofer, Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation, Maxim Sokolov, CEO of ÖBB, Andreas Matthae, and Chairman of the Board and Director General of Russian Railways RŽD, Oleg Belozerov as well as other chairpersons of national railway companies and representatives of public organizations, scientific institutes and the banking sector.

In numerous interactive panel discussions and sessions, participants discussed opportunities and challenges in the implementation of the New Silk Road, ways to increase the efficiency of rail freight transport, harmonizing technical and legal standards, and financing the modernization of infrastructure. Everyone agreed that the importance of rail transport along the Eurasian land bridge is increasing as the current trend of increased freight from the Far East continues. In addition, it was emphasized that the railways are a cost-effective, environmentally friendly and fast alternative to freight transport by air or sea.

The need to expand the Eurasian transport corridor for more efficient cargo handling along the East-West route is also the basis for two major infrastructure projects discussed at the Forum. The signing of a further cooperation agreement between ÖBB and RŽD at the Forum marks the beginning of the extension of the Russian broad-gauge railway to the Vienna-Bratislava region and the connection of the European transport corridor to the Trans-Siberian railway network. In addition, the construction of the Eurasian high-speed line will enable goods to be delivered from China to the EU within three days. The Forum participants were optimistic that the realization of the “One Belt One Road” initiative would enable the transport of one million containers a year from China to Europe.

Alexander Misharin, First Deputy Director-General of RŽD said: "The OBOR project will not only consolidate the unified track in transport systems, but will also create new jobs, reduce environmental pollution, stimulate innovation and promote the emergence of a single Eurasian economic area. The cooperation with ÖBB is an important step towards a mutually beneficial cooperation, as well as for the industry and the population of the two countries. "

Clemens Foerstl, CEO of RailCargo Austria AG, also expressed his delight with the joint cooperation in his closing speech: "We are pleased to see that the New Silk Road and the extension of the broad-gauge railway to Vienna are not considered as two different projects, but as one joint project. Austria appreciates and supports the expansion of rail infrastructure in the Eurasian Corridor, and the signing of the agreement with the Russian Railways marks a high point and milestone in our efforts towards the Eurasian Transport Corridor. "

The International Railway Forum SP1520 is organized by the company Business Dialogue in main partnership with ÖBB-Holding AG and Russian Railways (RŽD).

The next Forum SP1520 will take place from 06-08 June in the Russian Black Sea city Sochi.

“Strategic Partnership 1520” is an international Business Forum established with the aim of pooling and coordinating the efforts of the players in the Eurasian transport market to create a holistic infrastructure in international transport corridors and to contribute to the development of efficient transport solutions for the carriage of passengers and freight.

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