Freight volumes on the state-owned rail network Eesti Raudtee are to fall by about half this year compared with 2021, largely the result of sanctions on Russian businesses, meaning the company will move further into the red, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Tuesday.
At the same time, the government is both calling for a halt to any Russia-related business on the part of another state-owned firm, freight rolling stock operator Operail, and for rail tariffs to be hiked, while Eesti Raudtee and Operail are both calling for more state support.
Eesti Raudtee commercial director Artur Reichmann told AK that: "In terms of freight transport, in 10 months, 6.7 million tons was transported on Eesti Raudtee's infrastructure, which was a 40 percent drop on year."
As for border crossings: "When talking about average numbers, there are about three or four pairs of trains per day at the three border stations in total," Reichmann went on.
A decade ago, ten times more trains came to Estonia, while currently the largest proportion of total transport volume comes from domestic haulage of oil shale, followed by fuel from Lithuania, AK reported.
In the past year Operail learned 90 percent of its revenue from the rental of wagons. However, the government has ruled that since the bulk of this is to Russian rail firms, the company has to exit that business sector.
In the coming weeks, the government is also to discuss raising rail tariffs both for freight carriers and for passenger carrier Elron, AK reported.
Eesti Raudtee is also set to lose about €20 million as a result of sanctions on Russia this year, while next year, the deficit s set to be five million euros higher, AK reported.
Reichmann said: "We have calculated that €25 million is the sum missing from Eesti Raudtee's balance sheet."
Operail board chair Raul Toomsalu said that the state should not increase the already-high rail tariffs in order to find funding, since the company has no income with which to pay this, while the state firm should be funded better instead.
Toomsalu said: "Up until now, too little has been paid, which has led to a situation where the freight side of Operail has ground to a halt, while now, when the volumes of goods transported are falling, finding the funds from the state budget to maintain Eesti Raudtee is needed."
Indrek Gailan, head of the transport development department at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, told AK that: "These fees should be altered, but how exactly to distribute them now, whether more will be allocated to freight carriers or more to passenger trains, needs to be decided in the coming weeks."
Toomsalu added that Operail does not have any business in Russia, adding all its clients are EU and Ukrainian businesses, and Operail rolling stock simply has to travel through Russia sometimes to reach clients; about 7-8 percent of the total rolling stock travels on Russia rail lines on a daily basis, he said.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael
Source: Aktuaalne kaamera