Russian train loaded with Maersk containers, source: Russian Railways (RZD)

Maersk launches third Far East-Europe intermodal service

Source: Russian Railways (RZD)

Maersk launched a new intermodal service linking the Far East with Europe. AE66, as it’s named, complements the logistic provider’s existing AE19 and AE77 services, all using the Trans-Siberian route. With a sea-rail-sea profile, AE66 connects Korea, Japan and China to Kaliningrad, the Baltics and Poland via the Russian port Vostochniy.

The new service involves multiple partners. Apart from Maersk, RU Federal Customs (FTS) and Russian Railways support the route, ensuring efficiency and service stability. At the same time, TransContainer JSC undertakes the practical part of handling the rail leg of the service.

Maersk’s new intermodal product is available to the market starting this week. It will run every 14 days for now, while soon it could become more frequent. With an estimated transit time of 20 days between Busan, Korea, and Kaliningrad, it is a pretty competitive option.

Happy customers mean success

“Our choice for AE66 to carry our products from Asia via Vostochniy was determined by multiple factors, like free on board (FOB) price, sustainable transit time and overall logistics expense to bring goods to our production factory in Kaliningrad,” said Viktor Chumachenko, Director of Logistics at GK Ekopet, one of the main customers for AE66.

More shippers onboard

Kaliningrad is among the service’s stops since GK Ekopet bases its factory there. However, apart from the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) producer, Maersk aims to bring more customers on its train. “We plan to increase volume by targeting customer segments dealing with high-value and/or lead-time-sensitive cargos, such as the Automotive, Electric, and Facilities sectors,” said the company. As a result, the service does not reduce its presence in Kaliningrad since it could use it as a gateway for more destinations covered by short-sea services.

The Far East game

As more and more intermodal and multimodal services are launched between Far East ports and Europe through Russia, Maersk decided to ramp up its presence in the specific market. Of course, ocean transit times and general hurdles faced in sea transportation play a role. However, what is most important in this case are the heavy investments from companies in Russian Far east ports and the focus on reliable rail services.

TransContainer, which is among the partners of AE66, is a specialist in this sense, with the company working intensely during the last few months to develop more rail links between Russia’s two ends and, respectively, Europe.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

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

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