Maersk To Use Land-Bridge To Avoid Panama Canal Delays

January 12, 2024

 

Maersk To Use Land-Bridge To Avoid Panama Canal Delays

 

Maersk Line have announced that they will be using freight rail services for moving cargo across Panama, in order to avoid the ongoing congestion and delays at the Panama Canal.

The Danish carrier advised customers that it’s OC1 service would make use of the rail network to offer a “land-bridge” service through Panama. Shipments headed east will be unloaded at Balboa and westbound containers will be dropped off at Manzanillo. The service will now omit the Port of Cartagena in Colombia.

The severe drought in the region has been impacting the canal’s operations for 9 months now, as water levels in the principal reservoirs have continued to diminish since April. The reservoirs feed water into a tiered lock system, which is used to float ships through the major waterway.

In normal conditions, around 36-38 vessels pass through the canal on a daily basis. However, restrictions have been in place for months and the daily limit dropped gradually to as low as 22 in December. The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) have suggested the limit may fall to just 18 in February, even though it has risen back up to 24 daily passages since New Year.

Vessels queues and congestion have been constant during recent times, and just as some carriers started to route worldwide services through the Suez Canal instead, recent events in the Red Sea have impacted that route too.

We suspect that if Maersk make a success of this new land-bridge service then other carriers will be tempted to follow suit. Whether the train terminals can handle a sudden increase remains to be seen, however the team at Envío is monitoring the situation closely.

 

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