Gefco’s rail service for Peugeot Citroën, which is moving semi-knockdown kits (SKDs) from the carmaker’s Vesoul plant in France, on route to the new €470m ($630m) production facility the French carmaker has set up with Mitsubishi in Kaluga, Russia has gained the support of the European Commission’s Marco Polo programme.
Marco Polo aims to ease road congestion and pollution by providing financial support for a switch to railways, sea-routes and inland waterways for European freight.
The service between the Naviland Cargo terminal near the Vesoul plant in eastern France and Malaszewisze/Brest on the Poland/Belarus border was established and launched in April last year in partnership with Fret SNCF subsidiary Captrain Deutschland and Transcontainer, the intermodal division of Russian Railways. At the Poland/Belarus border the containers are transhipped onto Russian wagons and transported to the Kaluga site, completing an overall distance of 3,000km.
Project assessment for Marco Polo assistance began on 31 July 2010.
Gefco is moving containerized SKDs of the Peugeot 308, Citroën C4 and Mitsubishi Outlander SUVs for assembly at the PCMARus plant. SKDs shipped to Russia are subject to a much lower level of import tax.
Subject to its fulfillment of contract requirements that include proving the full volume has been moved by rail for the full journey Gefco will receive a grant of €539,000 toward costs generated by the service.
According to Peter Reinshagen, PSA international projects manager at Gefco, the project differs from the usual Marco Polo procedure because it is already up and running.
“Marco Polo normally supports projects that have yet to be launched,” he told Automotive Logistics. “You get a grant promise and maybe a down payment, then you do you project calculation of the engagements you undertook to see if you have achieved them. Once that is achieved you get the full amount.”
Gefco is now working with an audit company to prove that the targets declared in its application have been met. This involves 44 40ft high cube containers being transported on seven trains per week, transferring 411m tonnes per km from road to rail and reducing the round trip from 16 days to ten. Gefco said the modal shift to rail removes 704 trucks from the road on the round trip.
In terms of the return leg, the service is bringing back folded SKD gigs in containers, comprising 35% volume but Gefco is looking to improve this with other cargo.
“The problem that we have at the moment with loading cargo is a customs issue,” said Reinshagen. “You need to be able to load [return] cargo under customs control but this is not possible because the customs post from which the train leaves is dedicated to PSA only, so no other customer can be loaded on this train at the moment.”
Reinshagen said this is about to change because of the new platform being set up just beside the plant in the Kaluga region. “This isn’t operational at the moment but it should be by the mid-part of this year, in a month or two.”
Asked whether the running of the project had been hampered by the implementation of the new Customs Union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakstan, Reinshagen said the situation has instead worked to the company’s advantage.
“We had a well-prepared customs operation for that and it was an opportunity to optimize customs duties, especially tax issues, because of the new Union,” he said. “This was a good thing. Before the incoterms were at the Russian border and there is no stop. Now we have moved the incoterms to the Polish-BelaRussian border where there is the change in gauge and operator, so customs and incoterm change is where the train changes and that is a lot easier.”