21 Nov 2022 11:13

TransContainer maintains 'near zero' growth forecast for container rail shipments in 2022

MOSCOW. Nov 21 (Interfax) - TransContainer , a division of Delo Group, said the Russian container railway services market is stable.

"As for the container transport market today, we see that it is demonstrating some stability. The amount of container shipments in the first 10 months of this year is virtually at the level of last year, growth of 0.1%. A total of 5.372 million TEU were shipped in the 10 months," TransContainer First Vice President Viktor Markov told reporters.

"The key driver that is ensuring the growth of the container transport market is imports. Imports are growing by 14%, and shipments within Russia are showing a decent dynamic, around 3.5%. As for the key drivers of decline, it's certainly transit, which is falling by 19%, and exports shipments are showing some decrease. The key reason, as we said, is the ability of [eastern railways] to ship out export freight," Markov said.

TransContainer previously forecast that the container railway transport market would remain about flat in 2022. "The forecast for this year for the whole market is a near zero dynamic compared to last year - about 6.5 million-6.6 million TEU," Markov said.

Speaking about the situation at ports and at overland railway crossings in Russia's Far East, he said the imbalance between export and import traffic is increasing. A number of measures will be needed to solve the problem of container congestion and stabilize the situation, including increasing the number of export container trains by three pairs per day and shipping imported containers from Far East ports in gondola cars, Markov said.

"We have now begun to actively developer our service for shipping gondola cars from the Far East. We are aiming for one train per day on the near-term horizon - we plan to reach this figure before the end of the year - and subsequently we plan to consider the advisability of increasing to two trains per day," Markov said.

He also said that container shipments through ports in Northwest Russia plunged by 61% in year-on-year in the first 10 months of 2022 and by 87% in October alone.

Increasing rail freight rates for shipping containers to the Far East will not solve the problem of redirecting freight traffic to the Northwest, because "first there needs to be a fleet that will ensure the movement of this freight from the Northwest to China and other countries," he said.

"At present there are problems with the fleet. The options that are being considered now are vessels of far lesser capacity and with greater cost. In addition, there is a whole range of other risks that need to be worked out. Without solving the problem of the fleet, however cheap a rate you set for the Northwest, freight will not go there - there will simply be nothing to ship it out," Markov said.