The logistics service provider, Smartcontainer C.V. has launched the first rail shuttle service connecting the Port of Rotterdam and Moscow after 16 years, with the maiden train departing the Dutch port on 31 October.
"Now, for the first time since 2005, there is a direct weekly rail connection with the Russian capital and Europe's busiest port," stated the Rotterdam Port Authority.
The Rotterdam-Moscow shuttle will depart every Thursday from the Rail Service Center of Rotterdam and will reach its final destination, the railway terminals of Selyatino and Vorsino near Moscow, seven days later, after a stop in the town of Brest in Belarus.
From Moscow, there are connections to, among others, Novorossiysk, Saint Petersburg, Vostochny, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk and China, via border crossings Zabaikalsk, Erlian and Naushki, according to a statement.
Representatives of the embassies of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia were present at the launch. "The train does not only connect Rotterdam with Russia but also Belarus and Kazakhstan," said the senior business manager for Supply Chain & Logistics at the Port of Rotterdam Authority, Gilbert Bal, who went on to point out that "Rotterdam will act as a hub for cargo from and to the rest of Europe."
Frank Donkers, director of Smartcontainer commented that there is certainly a need for reliable, sustainable and cost-effective container transport, while trade between the Netherlands and Russia has been on the rise again since 2020.
The train consists of twenty 90' wagons that can handle a combination of different containers. "We are very flexible, from dry cargo to tank containers," said Donkers. "Westwards we already have bookings for Russian processed wood, grain and other agriproducts. Eastwards, examples include exports of complete greenhouse systems via the containers on our trains," he added.
Smartcontainer is part of the Russian multimodal integrator RUSCON, belonging to the Delo Group and therefore, the company has good contacts and cooperation with Russian governmental organisations, such as customs and the Ministry of Agriculture.
The Russian company stated that stops in Germany and Poland are among the possibilities and that its ambition is to have three weekly container trains running by 2022.