Towards more sustainable rail logistics with renewable diesel – VR and UPM Plywood collaborate to reduce traffic emissions

The sustainability collaboration between the companies is taking a significant step forward as VR commits to using as much renewable diesel in its rail traffic as is consumed by UPM Plywood’s transport of plywood from the Pellos plant to Kouvola and Kotka. This is VR’s first HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) concept for rail logistics, whereby emissions from customer transports in the Scope 1 emission class* are reduced to almost zero.

Sustainability is a key part of both VR’s and UPM’s strategy. Together, the companies seek to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in their operations through practical solutions. Only approximately 60 per cent of the entire railway network in Finland has been electrified so far, so it is necessary to find other sustainable alternatives alongside electricity. In addition to renewable diesel, Pellos’ operating model for rail traffic has been made more efficient by increasing the capacity utilisation rate of trains and increasing tractive effort, which means using one locomotive instead of two. 

"Our goal is to provide our customers with sustainable solutions and to continuously develop new operating models together with them. Since other alternative types of motive power for rail transport, such as battery and hydrogen locomotive technology, are still in the development stage, the most practical solution for non-electrified railway sections is currently renewable fuel," says Joni Lehtonen, Vice President, Commercial, VR Transpoint.

"UPM Plywood’s Scope 3** emissions mainly result from raw material procurement and product transport. The transition of Pellos’ rail traffic to a more efficient operating model and the use of renewable diesel is a good example of constructive cooperation with concrete reductions in emissions," says Juha Vallittu, Logistics Manager at UPM.

Commitment to sustainable development

Trains are an environmentally friendly and efficient way to transport raw materials and products for industry. Rail transport has an essential role in curbing climate change. Rail transport already produces lower emissions and is more energy-efficient than many other modes of transport, as it only accounts for around 1 per cent of all transport emissions. VR is committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We are taking part in halving transport emissions by 2030 and moving towards a carbon-neutral Finland by 2035.


*Scope 1 includes all direct greenhouse gas emissions generated as a result of a company’s operations
** Scope 3 includes indirect greenhouse gas emissions generated from products and services purchased by a company

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