Maersk announced Thursday that it will double its capacity on weekly ocean-rail service between Asia and Europe to create more supply chain flexibility in response to Covid-19.
The company said its AE19 service will increase by up to two departures per week, although plans underway to scale up to daily services if demand continues on the current track.
The AE19 service is a combination of a short-sea and intercontinental rail product between ports in Korea, China, and Japan and Northern European ports in Finland, Poland, Germany, and Scandinavia. The service covers both westbound and eastbound directions for dry, refrigerated and dangerous cargo.
“The pandemic has triggered some trade bottlenecks in Europe that we can help solve by offering to our customers higher levels of supply chain management e.g. further developing rail into a cost-efficient, reliable and scalable mode of transport between continents, creating fall back options which seems to be crucial in crisis situations,” said Zsolt Katona, Managing Director, Eastern Europe.
Attracted by both competitive prices as well as faster transit, both North East Asia and North Europe shippers have increased bookings on the service, “boosting AE19 volumes by approx. 75% in April, May and June compared to pre-COVID-19; a trend that will likely improve in the second half of the year,” points out Zsolt.
Maersk recently introduced a block train solution connecting China and Georgia, the first such product developed specifically for the needs of Georgian imports. Last month, the first train from Xi’an (Shaanxi province), China arrived in Tbilisi, inaugurating the new rail connection, which complements Maersk’s current coverage of the Caucasian republics (Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia), based on Ocean shipping products.