In cooperation of Operail and EWSA, this year´s most exciting rail transport project got a kickstart – bringing new electric trains to Estonia

Added on 21.06.2024

At the beginning of June, an exciting and complex project got a kickstart – the transport of Elron’s new electric passenger trains from the Škoda factory in the Czech Republic to its home depot in Pääsküla, Estonia. The train was transported by road to Latvia and then by rail from Latvia onward. Over this and the following year, 15 new electric trains will be similarly transported to Estonia. The forwarder of this project is the international logistics company EWSA, who chose Operail as their transport partner in Estonia.

“It was clear from the outset that this was going to be one our most complex and significant projects in Estonia,“ acknowledged Vassili Zavoronkov, CEO of EWSA. “During discussions with the manufacturer, the task revealed itself to be even more complex than anticipated,“ he added.

Transporting new trains presents with unique challenges. These trains, unlike regular cargo, cannot yet drive themselves, but cannot be loaded onto wagons like regular cargo either. “The train’s air brake system and electronics are new – untested and unused, and they must reach the buyer in this original state,” Zavoronkov elaborates.

Operail was chosen as the partner to technically develop and safely execute the complex transport due to its expertise and extensive experience in transport under special conditions. Elron’s current Stadler passenger trains were also delivered by Operail at the time. Zavoronkov added that Operail owns the newest locomotives in the Estonian freight market, offering more options for coupling new electric trains with a diesel freight locomotive, which also spoke in favor of Operail.

Developing the complex transport plan

“Transporting a locomotive or an entire train on its own wheels is already unusual, not to mention when it involves a brand-new train. Organizing such transports requires special methods, knowledge, and good cooperation between several parties,” confirms Kirill Spektor, Oprail’s sales manager of freight transport under special conditions and coordinator of the Škoda project. A considerable amount of consultation was also done with the train manufacturer, the Škoda factory, during the development of the transport plan.

The electric passenger train and the diesel freight locomotive have different coupling devices. Spektor explains that special adapters were used to couple the electric train with a Scharfenberg-type automatic coupler to a diesel locomotive with an SA-3-type automatic coupler. After thorough calculations, it was decided to attach exactly five empty freight wagons behind the electric train, whose role was to ensure the braking force of the train, as the brand-new braking system of the electric train could not yet be used. The adapters enabled the connection of the locomotive and wagons’ automatic couplers and air mains.

Flexible and reliable cooperation

„We are very grateful for the exceptional work and dedication of all the participants in this project. Special thanks to Operail’s sales manager of freight transport under special conditions Kirill Spektor, freight transport specialist Pavel Žitnikov, logistician Jegor Sinjov, and head of station work department Nadežda Akrõmova, who were available for organizing this complex transport both during and outside working hours. Their flexibility, attention to detail, and reliability were instrumental in the success of this project. We also want to thank Operail’s management for offering flexible solutions and reliable service,” said Vassili Zavoronkov in conclusion.

From 2024 to 2026, EWSA and Operail will transport 15 more Škoda electric trains to Estonia for Elron. “Preparatory work is already in full swing,” confirms Kirill Spektor.

Operail has extensive experience in all types of transport under special conditions – dangerous goods and oversized cargo, including military equipment, tractors, bulldozers, cranes, trucks, tracked vehicles, factory equipment, construction and work structures, and more. We offer both the sender and the receiver consultation on special transport conditions, review and coordination of transport schemes, commission-based acceptance of cargo, coordination of transport schemes with other 1520 mm railways, and certification of technical conditions and other requirements. For questions and inquiries regarding transport under special conditions, please get in touch with sales manager Kirill Spektor: tel +372 5661 9301, email: