Corona crisis not impacting VR Transpoint’s transport significantly so far
During the corona crisis, VR Transpoint has helped ensure industrial transport, and the coronavirus did not impact VR Transpoint’s key figures significantly during the first quarter. All 300 wagons of Finnlog, a company dealing in imported wood, have been completed and will be taken into commercial traffic in May. A positive tone can be seen in transport to Asia.
The total volume of VR Transpoint’s railway transport decreased by 2.8 per cent in the first quarter, amounting to 8.8 (9.1) million tonnes mainly due to the extensive labour market disturbances at the beginning of the year. The corona crisis had almost no impact on the transport. VR Transpoint’s road transport volumes remained at the previous year’s levels and stood at 1.2 million tonnes.
The punctuality and work-related accident rate of railway freight traffic improved in the first quarter with a punctuality of freight traffic of 89.1% during the review period. There were no work-related accidents in VR Transpoint’s operations.
“Transporting industrial products is of utmost importance for the national economy and the operation of the society. We keep the wheels of industry turning and ensure smooth freight traffic both on railways and on roads, helping Finland to stay operational. The importance of a stable operator is emphasised even further in such exceptional times”, says VR Transpoint’s Senior Vice President Martti Koskinen.
Electrically driven traffic accounts for approximately 80 per cent of freight train traffic with an increase of +1.75 percentage points year-on-year during the review period. Trains already account for almost one third of all land transportation in Finland, while railway traffic is only responsible for one per cent of emissions. The electric Vectron locomotives further improve the energy efficiency. Of the 80 unit batch of electric Vectron locomotive, 31 locomotives have already been delivered, and most of them are used in freight traffic. From the outset, the diverse features of the locomotive have been utilised in new kinds of freight traffic solutions as they enable higher load volumes.
“With our work, we support the competitiveness of industry and reduce emissions from traffic. Our goal is to increase the share of trains running on electricity to 90% over the next 5–10 years. Reaching this goal requires, however, that the electrification of the railway network is continued", Martti says.
Finnlog’s 300 wagons completed
The operations of Finnlog, VR Group’s Russian subsidiary, have started at full volume. The 300 wagons acquired by the company have been completed, and all cars will be taken into commercial traffic in May. Finnlog’s operations reinforce VR Transpoint’s competitiveness while also providing opportunities for further growth:
“Thanks to Finnlog, we now have a new and reliable service model suitable for our customers’ import traffic. Our goal is to expand the operations even further, and we are already negotiating with new, potential customers”, Martti explains.
Finnlog’s wagons are available for VR Transpoint’s Finnish key customers for the import of wood. Finnlog operates the cars in Russia, takes care of the maintenance agreements and has the operative responsibility for planning and managing the use of the wagons in Russia.
Pulp from Finland to China by rail
In spite of the corona crisis, the demand for railway traffic to Asia is high. Pulp trains to Asia are back in traffic after a short break. Several pulp trains will leave Finland for China during the spring.
“The demand for transport to Asia in the near future has increased clearly. This is affected by the disturbance of the global container balance resulting from the closure of China due to the corona crisis. A gradual normalisation of the situation is expected once the market opens up again. We are happy to see that our Finnish customers have found railway transport as a way to make deliveries to Asia”, says Sales and Marketing Director Tero Kosonen.
The preconditions of rail transport to China and Asia from Finland are good. Transit transport of sanctioned goods i.e. foodstuffs through Russia have also become possible. Containers closed with special seals have been allowed to travel through Russia as transit traffic, which makes it possible to start the transport of food, for example, from Finland to the Asian market.
The transport to Asia may take as little as less than two weeks as full train transport. Transport may be implemented as customer-specific trains or by combining the deliveries of several customers into one train. Wagon or container group deliveries are also possible, but the transport time is longer in that case. Transport between Finland and Asia is handled in cooperation with the customer, VR Transpoint and VR Transpoint’s associated company ContainerTransScandinavia.
“Developing the railway connection through the Eurasian continents brings a new, competitive alternative for our customers next to sea and air transport. Railway traffic is faster than sea and more economical and environmentally friendly than air. It is becoming an even more significant mode of transport between Europe and Asia”, Tero explains.