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.