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Statistics: 2023 freight transport down third in ports, 43 percent by rail

Shipping containers at the Port of Tallinn's Muuga Harbor. Photo is illustrative.
Shipping containers at the Port of Tallinn's Muuga Harbor. Photo is illustrative. Source: Jaan Kronberg/HHLA TK Estonia

Last year, the volume of freight transport via Estonia's ports fell by 31 percent to 23 million metric tons of goods, while Estonian railways carried a total of 10.1 million metric tons of freight last year, marking a 43 percent drop on year, Statistics Estonia reported Monday.

In 2021, the volumes of freight transport both through ports and by rail increased on year, but started to decrease again in the years to follow, Statistics Estonia team lead Piret Pukk explained according to a press release.

"The main reason for the decline is the drying up of East-West freight traffic through Estonia following Russia's invasion of Ukraine," Pukk added.

Freight volumes were lower on year in all months of 2023.

There was a drop in both the volumes loaded onto and unloaded from vessels as well, with the volume of goods loaded decreasing by 30 percent from 19.9 million to 13.9 million metric tons, and the volume of goods unloaded from vessels falling 32 percent from 13.3 million to 9.1 million metric tons.

A total of 10.1 million metric tons of freight were transported on Estonian railways in 2023, marking a 43 percent decrease on year.

A ton-kilometer represents the transport of one metric ton of goods over a distance of one kilometer. Last year, freight turnover totaled 766.3 million ton-kilometers, down from 1.287 billion ton-kilometers the year before. Rail freight traffic also fell by 40 percent on year in 2023, as it did in 2022.

The volume of domestic freight transport had increased to more than 12 million tons in 2021 and 2022, but decreased to 7.2 million tons in 2023. Oil shale and shale oil were recorded as the main goods transported domestically by rail.

According to Statistics Estonia, transit freight volumes by rail began to decline as early as mid-2021, but the drop was sharper after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022; 9.5 million metric tons of transit goods were transported in Estonia in 2021, which fell to 3.8 million in 2022 and just 2.1 million metric tons last year.

Metal ores and other mining and quarrying products as well as food products have also replaced petroleum products as the most common goods in transit in Estonia.

Other international freight transport, which also decreased last year, only accounts for a small share of total rail freight volumes.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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