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

Maersk pioneers with intermodal cold chain line from Turkey to Moscow

Source: Russian Railways (RZD)

Maersk has dispatched the first refrigerated containers from Mersin, Turkey, to Moscow’s Selyatino terminal. The containers reached the Russian port of Novorossiysk by vessels through the Black sea and Moscow with a train operated by Ruscon Delo Group. The cargo consisted of fresh fruits, while the service aims to meet the growing demand of Russian customers for this kind of goods.

Russian Railways provides the railway infrastructure for the new intermodal solution, which saw the first departure in late December 2020. Maersk cooperates with reefer specialists Polar Star LTD for the containers’ power supply during the train trip. The shipping company expects that the new service will “transform the refrigerated cold chain from the Middle East and the Mediterranean to Central Russia with a throughput of over 50,000 containers per year”.

Modal shift

Maersk’s new intermodal solution bears a particular characteristic: that of rail. As Zsolt Katona, Managing Director Maersk Eastern Europe said: “In the past, imported containers were either delivered by road or stripped in Novorossiysk and then carried on to inland locations by van”.

The recently launched line is the first transporting fresh fruit from the Eastern Mediterranean to Moscow by rail. More importantly, transportation takes place in the same containers arriving at the Russian port. After reaching the Selyatino terminal in the country’s capital, the service uses a road leg to transport products to their final destinations.

Not only is this cold chain service important for shifting cargo from road to rail, but it also constitutes an exemplary case of combined transport. It involves seamlessly three modes of transportation with the longer legs operated by sea and rail, and only the final leg using trucks for short-distance deliveries.

Port of Novorossiysk

Focus on the market’s needs

Yulia Krymova, director of the Fruit & Vegetable Department of Magnet, one of Russia’s larger retail chains, commented: “There is a growing demand from customers for fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the year”. However, it is not always easy to provide the best quality of goods due to seasonal difficulties and scarcities faced by local producers. The new service from Novorossiysk to Moscow will be crucial for ensuring these needs’ satisfaction and the availability of fresh products on the market’s shelves.

That will also be Maersk’s focus since it intends to keep its customers satisfied by providing fixed and quick transit times, safety for products and substantial monitoring of conditions during transportation.

Author: Nikos Papatolios

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

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