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New service highlights potential of Poti as Central Asia-Europe intermodal hub

This month saw the first call of CMA CGM’s new Caucasus Georgia Express (CGX) service. Playing a key role in this new intermodal service, APM Terminals Poti works as a hub for cargo consolidation and dispatch, connecting trains directly from the Middle Corridor to Georgia, for onward maritime transport to and from Greece and Turkey.

The new CGX maritime service transports cargo from APM Terminals Poti to Piraeus, Greece and Ambarli Port in Istanbul, Turkey within three and seven days respectively. The service makes approximately three roundtrips a month.

The APM Terminals Poti hub connects regular trains, from China - via either Kazakhstan or Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan - to this new maritime service to reach Turkey.

According to CMA CGM, transit via Poti to Armenia and Azerbaijan takes between five to six days. Via Poti to Kazakhstan 35 days, Turkmenistan 25 days, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan 45 days and Uzbekistan approximately 50 days, based on Caspian Sea vessel availability. APM Terminals’ new intermodal hub connecting Central Asia and the Caucasus region is now operational, providing an alternative to traditional routes currently blocked by Russian sanctions.

Gateway to Central Asia

Commenting on Poti and the Black Sea’s status as a gateway for containerised cargo from Central Asia, Iain Rawlinson, CCO of APM Terminals Poti said, “Opportunities for Poti and Georgia are driven by the port’s location at the Western end of the Central Asian/Caucasian rail network connecting Asia with Europe through the Middle Corridor. This is a trade which is in its infancy, but with a container penetration rate estimated at less than five per cent of the potential market, and a 250 billion USD economy, the opportunities for cargo growth over Poti are enormous.”

He concedes that with several parties involved in transporting cargo through the region, and multiple modal changes between rail and sea transport, routes can be complex, and accessing a single source of transport information is a challenge. New services, such as CMA CGM’s new Caucasus Georgia Express intermodal service can help to overcome this and indicates an opening up of the market to international rail service providers and operators.

Investment in rail

With 17 kilometers of rail lines within the port area, APM Terminal’s Poti is well equipped to handle rail-sea operations. “We will continue to invest in rail infrastructure to improve our capabilities to support rail, which has a relatively low environmental impact, particularly in Georgia, where the network is fully electrified,” said Raslinson. “Our experts at the terminal are also available to help potential customers navigate the sometimes-fragmented information available.”