2021 May 26 11:50

MSC launches new Asia-Europe intermodal solution

In mid-May, the first shipment of MSC containers was moved from Vostochniy to St. Petersburg in Russia by rail on MSC’s Taiga service, as part of a new regular intermodal solution from Asia to Europe, which was launched in April, according to MSC's release.

In recent years, there has been a growing number of shippers moving containers from east to west over land, including a surge in cargo originating in China bound for Europe via rail. Against the backdrop of this trend, MSC launched this intermodal solution which combines MSC’s intra-Asia shipping network, rail service in Russia and MSC’s short-sea feeder network in Europe.

Shippers can now rely on MSC’s Golden Horn and Sunrise services to ship cargo from China, Korea and Japan to two of the largest container ports in Russia, Vostochniy and Vladivostok. The cargo is then transported via rail on MSC’s Taiga service to St. Petersburg in 13 days and can then be transshipped via MSC’s Maroc Express and Baltic Loop 7 services to other North-West Continent and northern European ports such as Antwerp, Bremerhaven, Rotterdam and Le Havre in four to seven days.

“Customer response for this new solution has been very positive, and the volume is currently high enough so we can run dedicated blocktrains 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,” said Caroline Becquart, Senior Vice President and head of Asia & 2M service network.

One of the main advantages is that the transit time is considerably shortened. As an example, the 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 impacted by weather conditions, increasing the reliability of the offering.

In 2020, China became the EU’s largest trading partner and exports from China to the EU grew by 5.6 per cent compared with 2019, according to data from Eurostat, the EU's statistical office.

MSC’s intermodal solution is an attractive proposition for shippers who are facing issues with getting space on ocean freight services, a situation which has been exacerbated by the Suez Canal blockage incident in April and on-going port congestion in Europe stemming from the pandemic.

Furthermore, there is room for this transport option of moving cargo overland via Russia to scale up, with MSC’s commitment to avoid considering the Northern Sea Route through the Arctic, due to environmental concerns.