The first container block train from Finland to India is on its way carrying 32 containers loaded with paper-based products of a Swedish company. It is the first such service linking Europe and India using the western wing of a new transport corridor that seeks to cut transit time and cost of transportation.

The block train (an entire rake dedicated to one customer) with each container having the capacity of a 40 foot equivalent unit (FEU) departed from Vuosaari Harbour, the seaport near Hesinki, on June 21 on the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

The Corridor is a 7,200-km multi-modal network of ship, rail, and road routes to move freight between India, Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Europe, and Central Asia. The train route takes half the time as the traditional maritime route via the Suez Canal.

Passage to India

The train will pass through the Russian Federation and the Republic of Azerbaijan. The estimated travel time by rail from Vuosaari to Astara station in Azerbaijan is eight days. From Astara, the containers will be transported by road to the port of Bandar Abbas in Iran and then hauled by a ship to Jawaharlal Nehru Port, the state-owned container gateway near Mumbai.

The transit time from Vuosaari to Jawaharlal Nehru Port is around 25 days, about half that it takes to go via the Suez Canal, said a spokesperson for Nurminen Logistics Services Oy, the Helsinki firm that booked the block train for the shipment along with Russia’s RZD Logistics JSC. RZD Logistics is the logistics unit of Russian Railways Holding and is the biggest multi-modal logistics operator in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) comprising nine countries besides the Baltic nations.

Nurminen Logistics and RZD Logistics did not reveal the name of the Swedish supplier or the Indian importer of the paper-based products.

Transportation cost

According to preliminary shipping industry estimates, with time taken reduced by 40 per cent between Europe and India, the transportation cost, too, is expected to drop to $3,400 per twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) from the current $4,900.

In February 2020, Container Corporation of India Ltd and RZD Logistics signed a service agreement to transport cargo between India and Russia using a single invoice.

Exporters from India can book their goods through a single invoice issued by Concor while exporters from Russia can book their goods using RZD Logistics.

Source: The Hindu Business Line