First Russia rail shipment to India reaches Mumbai with more to come

Image: David Gubler via Wikimedia Commons. David Gubler

The first test rail shipment between Russia and India via Iran completed its journey reaching Mumbai last week. However, this seems to be the starting point of a broader development process along the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) that includes more rail route variations and some trains already dispatched.

The Russia-India intermodal shipment connected St. Petersburg with Mumbai. The train departed from St. Petersburg carrying two 40-foot containers with wood laminate sheets heading to the Russian Caspian Sea port of Astrakhan. From there, it left to the Iranian Caspian Sea port of Anzali. After entering and crossing Iran by rail, cargo reached the Bandar Abbas port in the Persian Gulf and departed for the West Indian coast, reaching Mumbai.

Iran benefits mostly

The St. Petersburg-Mumbai intermodal train was the first of its kind since it introduced Iran transport to the multimodal route via the Caspian Sea. It was the first intermodal shipment from Russia to India, strengthening Iran’s transport and transit role.

When welcoming the train, Iran’s First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber mentioned that his country is looking forward to developing more such services and embracing the INSTC route, which can redefine its position on international transport maps. In a comment to Iranian media, he stressed that Iran is already taking crucial steps to facilitate such developments. “The transit capacity of the country has increased to 20 million tons, and by planning and taking appropriate measures, transiting 300 million tons of commodities per year can be reached,” he said.

On top of that, Iranian media reported that the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) announced the assignment of 300 containers solely to transport goods between Russia and India. “According to the plans made by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, in the first phase, 300 containers have been considered for transporting cargo to Russia, and if the demand increases, the number of these containers will increase continuously,” explained the company.

More trains already transiting

Moreover, the Russia-India corridor via Iran is already seeing more trains transiting and more variations of the INSTC route being used. For instance, while the St. Petersburg-Mumbai train was reaching its destination, a new train travelling from Moscow to the Indian port of Nhava Sheva was entering Iran.

This time, it did not use the Caspian Sea multimodal route. Instead, it transited via Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan before entering Iran via the Sarakhs border crossing. This train carries 39 containers and will also travel until Bandar Abbas by rail and then to Nhava Sheva by sea.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

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

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