The Russian trucking industry is similar to that in the US. Russian cargo truck drivers spend a majority of their time on the road, going from port-to-port collecting cargo and driving the same to their destinations. Russia has one of the most extensive transport systems in the worlds, with one of the longest stretches of national roads used by most transport companies as their main routes. These roads stretch out from Kaliningrad crossing through Moscow and St. Petersburg, to the Kamchatka Peninsula. The transportation services are a major lifeline of the Russian economy, since many foreign transport operators use Russia as a transit territory for transporting goods from Europe to Asia.
Types of Trucks Used in Russian Trucking Most Russian fleets are composed of Kamaz trucks which is perhaps one of the most popular trucking vehicles among Russian companies and drivers. Kamaz trucks are made by the Kamsky factory. Most of these trucks were made in the 70s and are favorites of the Russian military.
Russia is home to a number of trucking companies that own at the average 100 fleets of cargo trucks that ply the routes at different times of the year. A smaller percentage, about 25% of Russian trucking companies, are smaller, owning about 20 trucks at an average. Another 30% of trucks are owned and operated by the drivers who work directly with cargo owners and shipping companies. Other brands of cargo trucks found plying the Russian highways include Renault, Mercedes, and Volvo. Job Description of a Russian Cargo Trucker Truck drivers in Russia are required to collect and transport various kinds of goods, such as heavy equipment and machinery as well as smaller items and light goods. The trucking company will offer various assignments to drivers, from intercity to interstate assignments that could stretch from one coast to another. The trucker is required to ensure that cargo remains in the same condition as it was when it came to his possession.
Ports The Russian Federation is home to 41 ports. These include the Port of Alexandrovsk Sakhalin Island, Port of St.Petersburg, Port of Port of Vladivostok, Port of Kaliningrad, and Port of Archangelsk Siberia. Most of these ports own and operate their container berths that work with major shipping and container companies, which also work with trucking companies that receive cargo for land transport when the cargo ships dock. Driver Pay Trucker pay depends on the employer. Most companies pay the driver day rates or by the mile. Drivers who drive their own trucks often are paid directly by the company who hired the transport service. They post their rates, routes they usually take, and transport costs on forums and message boards that cater for both truckers and cargo owners and shippers. Shippers looking for truckers who match their requirements typically hire a trucker this way.
Living Conditions of a Russian Trucker Although Russia has an extensive road and highway system, most of the roads are bad and road safety is poor. Accidental deaths are higher in the country compared to other G8 countries. Russian truck drivers are especially wary of crossing the Lena Highway, more commonly known as the Highway from Hell, in the summertime since this is the time that the highway turns into a river of mud. The highway runs parallel to the Lena River, which overflows right into the highway during the summer, making this part of the federal highway virtually impassable.
A Russian trucker also has to contend with lawlessness on the roads. Security is a big issue, with looting rampant especially during the colder months when people break open trucks to get to food and clothing to keep them warm. Russian truck drivers often take measures to protect themselves especially when doing cross-country trips.
Day-to-day living is comfortable. Most of these cargo trucks have comfortable sleeping spaces, although food may be hard to find in some of the least inhabited places in the country. A trucker can get the most rest at truck stops, where food and the company of other truck drivers can be found. How to Become a Trucker in Russia Becoming a Russian trucker often requires experience. Many drivers start working as short distance truck drivers for small loading companies before going up the ranks to long distance driving. Requirements include passing a physical exam as well as possessing a valid driver’s license. The employer may specify other skills. It depends on the company on whether they require a CDL license or not. A commercial driver’s license is often required for those who drive trucks that can carry 26,000 pounds and above. This is also required for truckers required to carry trucks that contain hazardous materials, regardless of the truck size.
Problems Facing the Russian Trucking Industry The most common problems facing the trucking industry are bad roads, trucks that do not meet Euro requirements, non-payment of cargo and transport fees, as well as the rising price of fuel and stricter environmental restrictions. Russia is notorious for its bad roads. This causes additional delays in transportation, which means more consumption of fuel and a longer time for the goods to arrive at the destination. Clogged roads due to roadside accidents are not uncommon, with hundreds of cargo trucks forming amazingly long queues along the highway when this happens.
It is not uncommon for cargo owners and freight companies to delay payments or avoid payment altogether. This is a very common problem in Russia and in some cases court action may not be enough to recover lost payment. However, most trucking companies are now finding ways to solve this problem by creating ratings for customers. Trucking companies now share information on cargo owners and shipping companies online. Rating systems determine which shipping companies pay on time, and which companies and cargo owner should be avoided. Stealing and looting are also rampant, especially when trucks are stranded due to floods or traffic accidents. A trucker often uses personal security measures to protect himself and the cargo from looters.
Most of the trucks owned by Russian trucking companies do not meet strict requirements for Euro transportation standards, which mean that transport into Europe is limited, so most Russian truckers have to be satisfied with transporting goods to Asia. Rising fuel prices are also a problem, with Russian fuel increasing drastically in the course of 5 years. Diesel cost 23.01 rubles per liter in 2007, which has grown to 32 rubles per litter in 2012. Stricter environmental restrictions on fuel usage, especially the requirement of using fuel with low sulfur content, are also affecting trucking operations, since this is a type of fuel that is not produced in Russia.