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Analysis: Rail Baltic freight volumes sufficient

Transit centre at Muuga Harbour.
Transit centre at Muuga Harbour. Source: (Postimees/Scanpix)

Preliminary results of an analysis of Muuga harbor's planned multi-modal terminal show a greater freight capacity of the Estonian section of the Rail Baltic route than previously calculated. The analysis by consultants Civitta and DB Engineering and Consulting expects larger volumes of Finnish goods, and states that the terminal could be developed into an international hub serving the Scandinavian and Russian markets.

The aim of the analysis was to find possible locations for the multi-modal terminal to be built for Rail Baltic. It also covered the terminal's technological functions, the required plot size, and its economic feasibility.

Efforts to forecast freight volumes for the new railway until 2055 were also analysed, including more than 100 interviews in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Russia, and elsewhere in Europe. Freight flows between more than 700 points of departure and destinations were compared as well as a large-scale documents analysis conducted.

“If we compare for example the data of Ernst & Young's survey with the preliminary results of the analysis of the Muuga freight terminal, then we can say that our view of Rail Baltic's freight volumes is more optimistic,” senior consultant at Civitta Eesti AS, Meelis Niinepuu, said.

Niinepuu added that the more optimistic forecast also concerned Finnish goods expected to move along the new railway, a topic that has been enthusiastically discussed in Estonia. There was reason for optimism concerning goods moving to European destinations in general, and in the still tough competition for freight volumes involving the ports in the area, Rail Baltic would be serious contender.

According to the consultants' analysis, freight volumes following Rail Baltic's completion can be expected to amount to some 5 million tons a year, to which Finnish goods will contribute 2 million tons.

The highest amount of freight is predicted for the years between 2045 and 2050, with 10 million tons a year including some 5 million tons of Finnish goods.

“East-West freight will add to these volumes. Here, the Muuga terminal has very good potential as a distribution hub both for China and Scandinavia as well as Russia,” Niinepuu said. “Two Scandinavian companies are active here already today that supply their Norwegian clients not out of Oslo, but out of Muuga. Rail Baltic leading to Muuga will create new synergies and improve Port of Tallinn AS' competitive position in the value chain of logistics,” he added.

The biggest trends identified by the analysis is the continuing movement towards container freight, and moving freight from roads to the railway in the medium and long term.

Their analysis showed what had been stated before, both by sources in Finland as well as by Ernst & Young: there would be sufficient freight volumes for Rail Baltic, Niinepuu said.

Muuga will get Rail Baltic's northernmost freight terminal. It will need to be integrated with the local port infrastructure, roads, and the 1,520 mm gauge railway infrastructure needed to use Estonia's existing network as well as accommodate freight trains coming in from Russia.

The full analysis by Civitta and DB Engineering and Consulting will be published in autumn this year.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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