At Võru railway station, the train can be spotted twice a week: on Tuesdays and Fridays. The day before yesterday, Igor Amonenko (25), Operail’s locomotive driver, was in Võru with an American locomotive to haul 12 wagonloads of logs.
An average of 55 cubic meters of wood per wagon
According to Teemar Kont, business manager of Lignator Logistics, one wagon can hold an average of 50 cubic meters of deciduous timber and up to 60 cubic meters of conifers. Considering that one wagon has an average of 55 cubic meters of timber, almost 1,500 cubic meters of forest are transported from Võru every week.
Scrap metal is also transported by train
According to Igor Amonenko, scrap metal is also transported. The day before yesterday, early in the morning, he took an empty tank from Koidula station, which was then transported to Valka with timber wagons. “I have also picked up a couple of dozen wagonloads from here, because logs are transported to the station by several forest companies,” Amonenko explains to the regional newspaper Võrumaa Teataja while sitting on the driver’s seat.
How did you become a locomotive driver?
“I studied to be a locomotive driver in Muuga; the course took one month. Before that, I had to be a maneuver manager and an assistant driver. That is how it started about three years ago,” says Amonenko, a young locomotive driver whose son Teodor will celebrate his first birthday in March. “I like my job, the salary is good, and I am definitely not planning to look for a new job.”
Trains whistle just like they used to
Amonenko is also happy to demonstrate the train whistles, one of which is a trumpet producing the sound that can be heard kilometres away. “One long whistle means that I will start moving, two long whistles mean that I am going to reverse, and three whistles mean I will stop. This is needed to inform people nearby. There is a button for short whistles, and a lever for the trumpet, which can be heard from afar. I use the trumpet when approaching railway crossings and if there are animals on the road,” explains Amonenko.
Railways in winter
There was a heavy snowfall on Tuesday noon, when Amonenko arrived at the Võru station from Koidula. What is the most important thing to pay attention to while on the road? “Safety is most important. Just like highways, there are speed limits for railways. The speed limit on the Koidula–Võru–Valga railroad is 60 kilometres per hour, the maximum permitted speed for a freight train in Estonia is 80 kilometers per hour. Snow on the tracks is cleared with plows, brushes, and snow blowers. Today snow is being cleared at Võru station,” Amonenko explains.
Timber from Võru forests reaches Latvia and beyond
Freight wagons from Võru first reach Valka and from there to other places. Teemar Kont lists the main locations where timber from Võru forests is transported: Kunda, Kehra, Püssi, Latvia near Riga, Paldiski South Harbour, and from there, to the rest of the world.
Winter arrived in the wrong order
Winter is the favourite season for foresters. However, this year, the snow came before the cold. “Foresters are happy when the ground freezes first and then, it starts snowing. This winter, it started snowing before it got cold and now it just keeps snowing. Of course, we can still get our work done: we transport timber from Veriora, Põlva, Reola, Tsirguliina (Sangaste), and Võru,” says Kont, describing the daily operations of his company. “Our company first started operating in Antsla and this summer it will celebrate its 15th anniversary.”
The article was published in the newspaper Võrumaa Teataja on 18.02.
Photo by: Võrumaa Teataja