Finland tests longer freight trains to intensify Russian transit

Finnish rail freight company VR Transpoint have successfully tested operation with a 830-metre-long train. It is a record figure for the railway between Vainikkala, an important junction close to the Russian border, and the Port of Hamina. With the help of longer freight trains, VR Transpoint intends to speed up rail transportation of Russian transit goods to the Finnish seaports.

The experiment took place in March on the Vainikkala – Hamina line. VR Transpoint has examined the possibility of operating longer and heavier trains. Two Vectron electric locomotives hauled 66 tank wagons. The entire train has a length of 830 metres and a weight of 6,000 tonnes.

“Trains of similar size arrive in Finland from Russia regularly, but we had not been able to operate such long trains on the Finnish side. It is great that we can increase the size of trains in Finland, making the Finnish transit traffic and transit route even more efficient”, noted Tero Kosonen, VR Transpoint’s Sales and Marketing Director.

Obstacle for transit

Vainikkala is the railway gateway for Russian transit heading to the ports of Southern and Western Finland, including Kotka and Hamina. Since Russia and Finland have similar gauges, 1,520 and 1,524 millimetres, which are interoperable, the Russian wagons are able to run on the Finnish network. But there is an obstacle.

Usually, Vainikkala border station receives Russian freight trains with a length of one kilometre or even more. In order to transport the wagons further, VR Transpoint splits them into two or more sets. This complicates the transit traffic on the Finnish railway network.

One-kilometre-long trains

As a result, Finland is thinking about one-kilometre-long freight trains. This requires the installation of longer spurs at Vainikkala station. However, the Finnish company sees many benefits from this step. “The longer trains increase the efficiency of the entire railway logistics operation.

On the same timetable, more goods can be transported at once and the tracks have more transport capacity. This enables the establishment of new transport concepts on both the Russian and Finnish sides. In addition, the longer train brings environmental benefits”, specified Antti Pursiainen, Sales Director for Russia and CIS countries at VR Transpoint.

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Author: Mykola Zasiadko

Mykola Zasiadko is editor of online trade magazines RailTech.com and RailFreight.com.

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