RLL Container Report - 01 November 2017
From: John Keir, Ross Learmont Ltd. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: 01 November 2017
Not the way it was planned to be..
Speaking at a recent intermodal conference, Alexi Grom forecast that within five years, the majority of cargoes will be transported by containers of one type or another. The President of OTLK predicts that by 2020 box traffic on the Eurasian rail routes will reach one million boxes per annum. In order to achieve this milestone, the average speed on the TranSiberian Railway line will have to rise to 100 kilometres per hour. This would have a beneficial effect not only on the main rail routes out of China to Western Europe but also on the volume of domestic box traffic moving on the broad-gauge network.
Along with dry cargo boxes of various types and sizes, the broad gauge network could benefit from the introduction of a far greater range of special containers. Top of the list is large injection of temperate-controlled containers, in the form of not only refrigerated but also special tank containers to distribute fruit and vegetables from the south to the north and juices, vegetable oils and wines moving in all directions all year round. If you were to ask consumers, what has been the most beneficial change brought about by the opening up of long-distance trade routes, the answer surely would be the general availability all-year-round of fruit and vegetables. This will be the main battleground for intermodal operators on the Eurasian continent.
However, the rail operators will not be able to compete with the vast quantities of boxes moving by deep-sea, where vessels with a capacity of 22,000 teu will be the norm on the main routes to Northern Europe. At the same time, boxships with a capacity of up to 18,000 teu will be re-deployed to the main trade routes to the USA’s east and west ports. The railways will be called upon to improve the speed and quality of distribution for an ever-expanding variety of products being transported to and from the major ports in this new and frantic world of intermodal transport.
The switch from conventional to intermodal transport has gone almost unnoticed in the rest of the world, but now it is the turn of operators in the broad-gauge network to pick up the baton and show that they too can rise to the challenge. The basic elements are all there in the form of rail lines, locomotives and container platforms and more of this hardware can be produced by local suppliers to meet the demand. The key will be the ready availability of large numbers of containers of various types to a wide range of regional, national and international operators, right across the broad-gauge network. These will all need access to funding in order to build their pieces of the great box jigsaw. At present, much of the projected funding is being directed at the new owner of TransContainer, which will, by default, have a monopoly position in the great box market. That’s not the way it was planned to be.
John Keir, Ross Learmont Ltd.
01 November 2017
Copyright ©, 2017, John Keir