Russia to Partner with Finnish Company to Further Explore Building Scandinavia into Strategic North-South Transport Corridor

On June 3, Finnish logis­tic ser­vices provider Nur­mi­nen Logis­tics signed a mem­o­ran­dum of coop­er­a­tion with RZD Logis­tics, a sub­sidiary of state-owned Russ­ian Rail­ways (RZD), to study logis­tics oppor­tu­ni­ties in Scan­di­navia, Asia, and Europe with­in the frame­work of the Moscow-led Inter­na­tion­al North-South Trans­port Cor­ri­dor (INSTC).

Rus­sia has been fund­ing and involved in build­ing parts of the INSTC incre­men­tal­ly and con­sis­tent­ly since the sign­ing of the orig­i­nal inter­gov­ern­men­tal agree­ment on the project with India and Iran in 2000.  Ulti­mate­ly, the INSTC seeks to build a 7,200 mul­ti­modal trans­port net­work that would con­nect St. Peters­burg to Mum­bai via improved tran­sit facil­i­ties (rail, road, ship, etc.), tra­vers­ing Iran, Azer­bai­jan, and parts of Cen­tral Asia.  The project is includ­ed as a crit­i­cal part of the Krem­lin’s com­pre­hen­sive trans­port strat­e­gy until 2030 (when pre­sum­ably a new strat­e­gy will be rat­i­fied), and is seen by Moscow as a strate­gic alter­na­tive to the East-West trade route that chal­lenges con­ven­tion­al and typ­i­cal­ly West­ern-dom­i­nat­ed trade routes via the Suez.

Per the MoU, Nur­mi­nen announced that it would launch two block trains — uni­form car­go ship­ments that car­ry the same com­mod­i­ty across bor­ders — in mid-June that will trans­port car­go from Helsin­ki to Nha­va She­va Port in Mum­bai, India, in 25 days, via the west­ern wing of the INSTC.  The Finnish ser­vice provider will be the first to oper­ate block trains from Europe to Asia via the INSTC.  With­in the logis­tics indus­try, block trains, as opposed to wag­onload trains (which com­prise dis­parate prod­ucts and brands of goods), are con­sid­ered a more effi­cient method of trans­port­ing cargo.

Nur­mi­nen Logis­tics has claimed that the route along the INSTC (from Helsin­ki to Mum­bai) is already two times faster than con­ven­tion­al mar­itime routes via the Suez Canal.