The popularity of rail transport is growing
In recent years, Operail has been able to replace almost 30,000 truck journeys on the main roads of Estonia with multimodal freight transport by rail, and the demand for a safer and more environmentally friendly mode of transport is growing.
“If we look at which social and global trends affect us the most, the keyword is environmental protection. If we add the climate goals of Europe and Estonia, it is clear that something needs to be changed to achieve them. We see that customers value a service that, with the same quality, can create added value by preserving the nature around us,” explains Raul Toomsalu, Chairman of the Management Board of Operail.
Thanks to Operail, more than 8,000 truck journeys were replaced with rail transport in 2019. In 2020, the number was as high as 13,000. In total, 26,600 trucks worth of goods have been transported by rail since August 2018. The goal for 2021 is to increase this number to over 40,000.
“Considering that one truck transporting a 40-foot container is 16.5 metres long, we have been able to remove a line of commercial vehicles of almost 440 kilometres from traffic – this is the distance between Tallinn to Šiauliai,” says Toomsalu. For comparison, Operail’s longest multimodal container train from Tartu to Muuga was a little less than a kilometre long and the train had more than 70 containers.
In addition to seasonal goods, such as gravel and grain, lumber, wood pellets, peat, etc. are also transported in containers from production companies in South and South-East Estonia to North Estonian ports. “We are constantly developing and evolving, and the future will bring two-way transport, which would further increase efficiency,” says Toomsalu.
According to Toomsalu, Operail could significantly increase its volume if the shortage of containers and platform wagons in the world were alleviated. “We receive inquiries about new product groups or routes practically every day. This shows that the demand is high and the freight transport by rail is becoming increasingly popular.”
In the near future, even more goods should be transported by rail instead of road transport. According to traffic safety expert Villu Vane, this tendency is a highly welcomed and favoured phenomenon in the context of traffic culture. “Removing goods from the road and transporting them by rail also helps increase our road safety. The fewer machines there are on the road, the calmer the traffic. Traffic will become safer because there will be less long trucks transporting containers on the roads, of which many often want to pass rather dangerously,” commented Vane.