MSC’s new regular multimodal solution from Asia to Europe, which was launched in April, has moved its first containers via block train from Vostochniy to St Petersburg in Russia.
Some shippers are being increasingly drawn towards rail due to issues with getting space on ocean freight services caused by the Suez Canal blockage incident in April and ongoing port congestion in Europe stemming from the pandemic.
In addition, a growing number of shippers have been moving containers from east to west over land in recent years, including a surge in cargo originating in China bound for Europe via rail.
Against this backdrop, the carrier launched the Taiga service, which combines MSC’s intra-Asia shipping network, its rail service in Russia and its short-sea feeder network in Europe.
One single package offers connections from China, Korea and Japan to various locations in Northwest Continent, Europe.
From Asia, cargo is shipped on MSC’s Golden Horn and Sunrise services to two of the largest container ports in Russia: Vostochniy and Vladivostok.
The cargo is then transported via block train to St Petersburg in 13 days and can then be transhipped via the company’s Maroc Express and Baltic Loop 7 services to other Northwest Continent and northern European ports such as Antwerp, Bremerhaven, Rotterdam and Le Havre in four to seven days.
Salvatore Scotto di Santolo, trade manager at MSC’s headquarters in Geneva, said: “Customer response for this new solution has been very positive, and the volume is currently high enough so we can run dedicated block trains to St Petersburg, instead of relying on existing rail schedules.
“This means added flexibility for our customers, which is much appreciated in these challenging times.”
Total transit time for shipments from Shanghai to St Petersburg is 24 days via this combined solution of ocean and rail, compared with 41 days by ocean freight.
In addition, the usage of rail service is highly stable as it is not so impacted by weather conditions, increasing the reliability of the offering.
Last year, China became the EU’s largest trading partner and exports from China to the EU grew by 5.65% compared with 2019, according to data from Eurostat, the EU’s statistical office.