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11 Декабря 2013

RLL Container Report – 11 December 2013

From: John Keir, Ross Learmont Ltd
Email: john.keir@teia.com
Date: 11 December 2013

Happy days are here again
The skies above are clear again
So let's sing a song of cheer again
Happy days are here again

“Happy days are here again” but Ager and Yellen.

Most associated with the repeal of the prohibition on the sale of alcohol in the USA, the song “Happy Days” was supposed to signal the end of the Depression and the start of a bright, new future. Sadly, history was at that moment composing a different song that marched and “goose-stepped” to a different beat. History has a nasty habit of upsetting “the best-laid schemes of mice and men”.

Statistics from shipping lines suggested that container traffic on the important Asia-Europe deep-sea route was again on the rise. In October, 1.1 million teu were transported, representing an 8.5% increase on last year’s total. At the same time, traffic on the routes from Asia to N America rose by 4%. Further confirmation of the growth in intermodal traffic came from the Far East Division of the Russian Railways. In the first eleven months of this year, TransContainer increased its container carryings by 18% to 409,000 teu. Equally important, the average weight per container rose by 2.2% to 17.6 metric tons.
Container ports in the Baltic states and Poland all reported encouraging figures.Transiidikeskuse in Muuga, Estonia handled 21,242 teu in the month of November, an increase of over one-third on the 2012 figure, giving a total of 233,914 teu for the first eleven months of the year. During the same period, throughput in Riga port was up by 5% to 351,680 teu. In November, Klaipeda retained its leading position as it processed 370,700 teu to record a 7.3% rise over the first 11 months of the year. Round the coast in Gdansk, DCT passed the million teu mark in mid November and went on to record a total of 90,516 teu for the month as a whole. This is almost 17 percent more than in the same period last year but, it should be noted, it is also over 20,000 teu less than in the previous month of October.

All these Baltic ports rely to some extent on CKD traffic to car plants in order to sustain growth figures but October saw new car sales in Russia fall for an eighth straight month in a row, down 8 percent year-on-year to 234,481 vehicles. Production levels at Russian car plants were partly sustained by a sharp reduction in the number of new cars entering the country. During the year to October, the import
of cars fell by 18.6% to just under three-quarters of a million vehicles In the same period, commercial vehicle imports fell by 27.6% 71,500. As a result, Russian car and truck plants have announced extended holidays over the New Year period with Kamaz closing down from 01 to 22 of January.

One need only look at other transport sectors to see what the future may hold. TVZ in Tver, the main producer of passenger wagons in Russia will close for a 4-month “holiday” as orders have dried up. RZD, Russia's largest employer with more than one million workers, has put a quarter of them on shortened working weeks. This news comes as RZD predicts a 3.1% fall in traffic from 1.272 Billion tons to 1.233  Billon tons.

Nevertheless, Russian container operators are still investing in what they see as a bright future in Siberia. RZD’s own container subsidiary, TransContainer celebrated St Andrew’s Day by launching its latest block train which will operate between Novosibirsk and Khabarovsk. The train carrying 43 containers (60 teu in total) was scheduled to arrive in Khabarovsk on Friday, 6 December. As is typical for a domestic container service, the train carries a wide range of goods from rice to toys and polyethylene. The operator considers there should be sufficient demand on this route to warrant three round-trip journeys per month. To cope with its projected growth in intermodal traffic, the Eurosib Terminal in Novosibirsk has increased its surface area by 7,700 square metres. This will raise container capacity at its Siberian hub to 4,000 teu. Next year, Eurosib will add a Class”A” heated storage facility covering 10,000 square metres.

Spetstransgarant is diversifying into a specialist segment of the rail market by trialling lined tank containers for the transport of aggressive chemicals such as acids. In this initial phase, the trial involves only a handful of tank containers but if successful, it could result in a major shake-up of chemical transports in Russia. It could also provide a major fillip to the Russian container industry. While Russia cannot compete on price and volumes with the Chinese box giants, it does have specialist container producers that can turn out tank containers to match the standards required by the Russian chemical industry, which vary from those employed in other parts of the globe.

John Keir
Ross Learmont Ltd
11 December 2013
Email: john.keir@telia.com

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