Russian Railways and Murmansk Commercial Seaport have opened a bypass railway route with guaranteed cargo volume. It will handle 15 pairs of trains a day, as estimated by Russian Railways. Full train services towards Murmanskare to be resumed in October, after completing repairs to the damaged bridge.
Following the River Kola bridge collapse, railway connection to Murmansk was lost and the port had to suspend its operations. Despite the discontinuation of all railway operations, the port carried out maintenance, installation and commissioning of new equipment and special-purpose machinery. Now that the bypass road has been built, the Murmansk Commercial Seaport is resuming loading and unloading operations related to rail transport. According to Alexey Rykovanov, General Director of the Murmansk Commercial Seaport, the port will be able to handle Capesize ships and load coal and ore in early July. To be noticed, in the Northwestern region, only the port of Murmansk is able to accommodate ships of this class.
"Russian Railways and the Murmansk regional government have done extensive work, and now it is officially confirmed that at least 15 pairs of trains with various cargo groups will arrive at the port daily. This will enable the company to operate at almost full capacity and minimise financial losses," the port management said.
"Murmansk has taken on large-scale traffic restoration work. The bypass track was laid in just 18 days and opened four days ahead of schedule. During this period, colleagues from Russian Railways rendered major assistance in looking for alternative logistics solutions, found suitable temporary options for the transition stage and offered a number of measures to reduce financial losses from the interrupted transportation," said Denis Ilatovsky, SUEK's Logistics Director. He also pointed out at the personal contribution of Gennady Verkhovykh, Deputy General Director and Head of the Central Infrastructure Directorate at Russian Railways, who personally supervised all restoration work and helped railway and port workers pass this strength test.
Market analysts note that the suspension of shipments towards Murmansk has once again emphasised the advantages of the Murmansk Commercial Seaport, including more cost-efficient logistics at a lower freight cost and a higher cargo handling speed. In particular, in May, the freight cost from Murmansk for Capesize ships delivering iron ore to China was only around $20 per tonne. Another important aspect is the ship loading speed and the intensity of loading and unloading operations: approximately 25,000 tonnes a day at each berth.
Also, the current situation has given impetus to searching for new logistics solutions. Russian Railways and several shippers such as PhosAgro, Acron Group and EuroChem have established cooperation and coordination regarding the shipment of mineral fertilisers and apatite concentrate towards the Murmansk Commercial Seaport via a bypass route. This will make it possible to plan and make shipments scheduled at the port for 2020, including iron ore, apatite concentrate and mineral fertilisers, their optimal logistics and delivery to end consumers across all target markets.