TransContainer simplifies China-Europe rail with unified consignment note

Source: TransContainer

The Russian intermodal operator TransContainer launched its first multimodal rail freight service under a unified CIM/SMGS consignment note. The service that connected Wuhan in China with Mukran Port in Germany is the first of many for the company that aims to make its Eurasian links more efficient.

A train with 50 containers onboard loaded with consumer goods is TransContainer’s very first service under a unified CIM/SMGS consignment note. “Its usage allows speeding up the cargo handling process at borders and ports, as well as reducing the cost of transportation and the number of shipping documents. In the future, we plan to dispatch cargo from China to Germany using a unified consignment note 3-4 times a month,” noted Vladimir Khlutkov, Asia-Pacific business development director at TransContainer.

Why is CIM/SMGS important?

Many industry professionals might know from experience that a CIM/SMGS consignment note is used for the entire route when cargo is transported through countries applying different international transport laws (CIM and SMGS). The CIM international railway consignment note is used for railway and multimodal cargo transportation of goods in the EU countries and some countries in Asia and Africa.

On the other hand, SMGS is used in Russia and other countries applying the Agreement on International Freight Traffic. The difference in regulations makes transit through border crossings impossible without stops and controls. Understandably, stopping at each border point for document checks is time-consuming and impactful on transit times.

Routing according to the consignment note

As mentioned above, TransContainer’s train linked Wuhan in China and Mukran port in Germany. The service was multimodal. The train left Wuhan on 20 January and transited through the Zabaikalsk border crossing point. After entering Russia, it proceeded to the Ust-Luga container terminal. The specific terminal is positioned on Russia’s Baltic shore and is very close to St. Petersburg.

From Ust-Luga, cargo will be transported by vessels to its final destination in Germany. The transit time through Russia was nine days. The sea leg will take three days to complete, while the service’s total transit time will be 21 days. But why did TransContainer choose the specific route?

As the company explains, the unified consignment note can be applied only to particular parts of the Russian railway network. These are the Oktyabrskaya and Kaliningradskaya railways. The Ust-Luga container terminal belongs to the first one making transit and transhipment through it imperative for the service.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is editor of, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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