The Trans-Caspian route, which runs through China, Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, Georgia and further to Turkey and European countries, has become one of the alternative routes for the goods transportation from Asia to Europe, to which operators seek to redirect the rail transit from the “northern” route passing through Russia and Belarus.
The “bottleneck” of the Trans-Caspian route is the sea leg.
In September, the number of vessels serving the sea leg of the Trans-Caspian route doubled from three to six. Then another, the seventh, vessel was put into service, according to Freight Waves.
The capacity of vessels in service is up to 350 TEU. As a rough estimate, seven vessels make a total of 3-4 voyages westwards every week. This corresponds to the capacity of approximately 6-8 container trains per week - 3600 TEU per month.
Due to the major time loss associated with delays on the sea leg, the delivery from China to Europe via the Trans-Caspian route takes 50-60 days, and its cost is on average one third more than through the territory of Russia. This makes the route uncompetitive in relation to ocean shipping.