Over the first weekend in June, Stena Line Freight completed a very hands-on journey through Latvia to explore the Swedish – Russian transport corridor empirically and in depth. On Friday 5th of June, our Freight Director Björn Petrusson together with the Freight Rail manager Christer Kjellberg headed off from Göteborg to Nynäshamn to meet the Managing director of DB Schenker Russia, Mr Aivars Taurins.
The journey started from Ventspils Saturday morning with a motorcycle trip towards the Russian border. The overall objective was to find out how the corridor is governed in terms of transport preferences, customs clearance, warehousing and cross-docking alternatives.
We met with Mr Anatoly Lapik, CEO of Merkurij Group, in Terehova by the Lattvian/Russian border control. Merkurij Group provides all services needed in order to facilitate a good transfer across the border in terms of customs declarations. Merkurij are also in possession of systems for doing these operations remotely, supported by IT connections with both of the countries customs in real-time.
'The process isn’t straight forward, says Anatoly. Latvian and Russian customs very seldom communicate with each other. As the only company who can offer remote customs clearance, we are able to offer Stena Line a waterproof trade line across the border, confirmed already in Sweden'.
Merkurij Group also offers a warehouse close-by, where the plan is to increase the capacity with 2000m2 space for the growing demand. Surprisingly, the trade line benefits from reloading into Russian TIR-trailers at this spot to make the border crossing easier and without fuss.
Rail is of course another option, already used to and from Ventspils where we are carrying chemical products eastbound, starting in Stenungsund, and ending at several destinations in Russia. Westbound steel to Germany from the Russian Ural area is another example of what we transport.
'Trailers on trains ( called intermodal transports) in this part of the world is not as yet developed, the obstacles are many where security here is a major one as you can’t leave your trailer un-accompanied says Christer Kjellberg. The railway companies lack wagon equipment for trailers as well. Containers goes like a breeze on rail, but are typically of less interest for our operations in bigger quantities as we can’t stack them. The future will bring more rail options for consumption goods, it’s just about being in constant dialogue with customers and follow closely the Latvian infrastructure development'
Security is taken seriously. Drivers can't sleep as they stand in the customs clearance queue with a fear of being robbed. A security parking area is available where trailers can be parked during the clearance process.
'It really widens up the understanding of how trade is being processed by visiting the border facilities says Björn Petrusson, symbolically opening a border gate to be utilised by Stena Line. The complexity is of course unchangeable by Stena Line, but with the Merkurij cooperation, we will succeed with the majority of our future plans accommodating cross-border operations, Björn Petrusson adds´