General Motors’ division in Korea and Russian vehicle maker Gaz are set to benefit from a new rail service launched this month by Ruscon, the Russian logistics and intermodal operator subsidiary of Global Container Service.  

Ruscon is providing a block train service from the new Ust-Luga Container Terminal situated near St Petersburg that will travel on a route more than 1,100km to Nizhny Novgorod, 400km to the east of Moscow. It will carry complete knockdown (CKD) kits to the GAZ plant there following an agreement between the Russian vehicle maker and GM Korea signed in 2011, according to which GAZ is assembling the Chevrolet Aveo subcompact city car. Production of the Aveo at the Nizhny Novgorod plant began in December last year and GAZ will be assembling around 32,000 units of the model per year.

GAZ has also begun contract manufacturing projects to build the Skoda Jeti and Octavia, the Volkswagen Jetta and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van. OEMs such as GM and VW are using GAZ’s capacity to help the volume requirement’s of Russia’s industrial policy, which calls for production of 350,000 units per year in Russia.

Following trials run at the beginning of December Ruscon has now started regular transport of containers with parts from the Ust-Luga terminal on to the GAZ plant. GCS said the volume would build to around 800 40ft containers per month.

GCS also said the service would offer available capacity to third parties including carriers and shippers that route freight cargo via Ust-Luga.

Ruscon, which has recently set up its own office at the port, is using its own flat-car wagons for the shipment of the containers and in addition to railway transport, it is arranging port and customs transit on the project.

The containers are shipped from GM Korea’s plants to the Ust-Luga terminal by Maersk Line.

During the trials in December, a total of 118 containers were delivered to the assembly plant in Nizhny Novgorod; 54 40ft and two 20ft containers were carried on the first train and 60 40ft and two 20ft containers on the second.

Last year Ruscon began the deployment of what will amount to 224, 80-ft rail flat-cars to be deployed in block trains operated for CKD shipments between the port of Novorossiysk and Elabuga in Tartarstan.

Automotive manufacturing joint ventures in Elabuga's special economic zone include Ford, Isuzu, Voith Turbo, Saint-Gobain, Rockwool, Air Liquide and P-D Fibreglass, part of the Preiss-Daimler Group.

As well as expanding its owned wagon fleet, GCS plans to increase the number of long-term leased flat-cars operated by Ruscon to over 450 units.