NORDIC / SECURITY / INFRASTRUCTURE 2009 - Intermodal links trade between Baltic and Black Seas

By: | at 08:00 PM | Channel(s): Intermodal News  

By Karen E. Thuermer, AJOTThe Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania as well as Belarus, Poland, Ukraine, which is on the Black Sea, have been implementing an intermodal freight transportation corridor that connects these Baltic Sea nations to the Black Sea. A region that has often been overlooked in the world of global trade, these corridors have gained importance as the economies of these regions began to take off with the global expansion of world trade and demand for oil and gas products.
A network of intermodal rail networks are being developed that will connect the afore mentioned Baltic Sea nations and Germany; Poland; the Nordic countries of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland to Russia, Belarus, Ukraine to Black Sea markets such as Turkey and Georgia and beyond. These networks consist of three lines: as the “Viking,” the “East-West” Corridor and Rail Baltic.
The “Viking” is a joint project of Lithuanian, Byelorussian and Ukrainian railways, stevedoring and seaport cargo companies, and Klaipėda, Ilyichevsk and Odessa seaports. Specialists from abroad consider this project to be the most successful project of cooperation between the countries of East and Central Europe.
Officials contend that freight carried by “the Viking” shuttle offers the possibility of increasing container traffic by 300,000 TEUs per year through the Lithuanian Port of Klaipeda (KTG); and 250,000 and 300,000 TEU per year, respectively, through Ukraine’s Port s of Ilyichevsk and Odessa.
Last October, officials announced that Latvia would be linked to the “Viking” container block train that shuttles between the Black and Baltic Seas on the route linking Ilyichevsk, Minsk and Klaipeda and that it would be augmented by a Latvian antenna by the end of the year.
Train sections from the Latvian port of Riga will link up with the “Viking” in the railway station in Radviliski (Lithuania). The technical infrastructure for the project is in place, and the Latvian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian and Belarusian railways involved are currently working out the details concerning timetables, customs issues and rates. Scandinavia is also expected to be connected via this route in the long term, namely through a container terminal in the Latvian port of Liepaja, which has yet to be built. Estonia’s railway has also said that it is interested in a link to “Viking” services.
Overall, the Viking train carries 20 and 40-feet containers as well as semi-trailers and trailer-trains (contrailers). They are put across to Klaipėda port by sea transport from Scandinavia and Western Europe as well as via Mukran- Klaipėda ferry-line, and are carried on further to the Ukraine, Belarus, Near East, and Caucasus via Ilyitchovsk and Odessa sea ports and back.
The railcars with the containers and trailer-trains are taken by the “Viking” not only to Klaipeda (Lithuania), Ilyitchovsk and Odessa (Ukraine) sea ports, but also to Belarus, Lithuania and Ukraine’s train stations that are covered by the train’s route.
The railcars with containers to Georgia and Armenia can be carried via Ilyitchovsk (Ukraine), Potch (Georgia), Ilytchovsk (Ukraine), and Batumi (Georgia) ferry lines. The ones sent to Turkey can be transported via Ilyitchovsk (Ukraine)-Derinj (Turkey) ferry line. Containers that are carried by “Viking” can be loaded and unloaded in the Klaipėda port (Draugystė station), or at container platforms of Panerių and Klaipėda railway stations. Trailer-trains can be loaded onto the railcars (or unloaded) on the ramp at Draugystė station or Paneriu station.
While much focus has been on developments within transportation gateways in Western Europe, East and Central Europe have recently come of age in their effort to connect Baltic and Black Sea markets to the world thanks to the intermodal rail project “the Viking.”
Regarded the most successful cooperative project between East and Central European countries, “the Viking” was offic

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American Journal of Transportation