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Ministry official: Operail strategic plan finalized, not to be made public

An Operail loco at a crossing in Estonia.
An Operail loco at a crossing in Estonia. Source: Rene Kundla/ERR

The long-range plans of state-owned freight rail service provider Operail are classified information, a ministry spokesperson says, though these strategic plans have been put in place.

Operail's sole owner is the Estonian state, though the possibility of privatizing the company has been the subject of ongoing discussion for years now, while the current Reform-Eesti 200-SDE coalition agreement also provides for the privatization of non-strategic companies which the state has a stake in.

In the case of Operail, Russia's invasion of Ukraine concentrated minds, given the

The government is expected to discuss the matter in the new year, Sander Salmu, deputy secretary general for mobility at the ministry of climate, told ERR: "In any case, this week's news that Raul Toomsalu is stepping down as Operail CEO, leaving Merle Kurvits as the sole board member, need not spell any major upheaval."

"In addition to freight transport, Operail has a subsidiary Operail Repairs, which deals with rolling stock maintenance, repair and metal work. Therefore, the company's business operations operate on a day-to-day basis and the CEO's departure will not affect customer service," Salmu went on.

Operail's activities have not completely dried up: the company continues to transport goods in Estonia and, in addition, also deals with the transport of import, export and transit goods, with the exception of goods originating from, sent to, or sent to, Russia or Belarus due to the owner's expectation. with freight.

Salmu added that Operail's board has drawn up the company's strategic plan together with the council, i.e. different options for Operail's future.

"Presumably, the government will discuss the completed strategy in January. To the extent that this strategy is related to the company's business activities and business plans, the content of the strategy is confidential," Salmu added.

Operail's merchandise volumes decreased by 68 percent in the first nine months of this year compared worth the same period in 2022, and losses remained at €3.3 million.

At the end of October, Toomsalu had said that projected revenues will fall further over time, adding that stemming current losses and finding new ways to boost revenue in order to become profitable again was a matter of urgency.

In 2021, Operail transported 12 million tons of goods on Estonia's railways, though this year's projected figure was a little over two million tons, after hauling goods of Russian and Belarusian origin was banned by government order from the start of this year.

Operail had also sold off its rolling stock rentals fleet in Ukraine, and its Finnish subsidiary.

In all, this meant the company's staffing numbers were more than halved.

Raul Toomsalu was unavailable for comment at the time of writing.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Karin Koppel

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