The Amber Train will connect rail freight transport between northern and western Europe

The Amber Train will connect rail freight transport between northern and western Europe / Raul Mee

The new service provides an additional opportunity to develop freight transport that is not dependent on Russia.

On this Tuesday, the first Amber Train loaded with timber, peat, and construction foam departed from the Estonian port of Muuga. This service creates a rail corridor for freight traffic between northern and western Europe via the Baltic States. The Amber Train improves safety on motorways and protects the environment, moving goods from roads to railways. According to Riina Sikkut, Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure, the Amber Train project is particularly relevant for Estonia at a time when trade flows and transport corridors in the world are being reshaped by the war in Ukraine. 

The train arrived at the Kaunas Multimodal Terminal in Lithuania on Wednesday morning. Here the semi-trailers were loaded onto flat cars with European rail gauge and their journey continued towards Western Europe. New goods were loaded into the Amber Train wagons and the train took them back to the port of Muuga, where the semi-trailers were loaded onto a ship that take them to Finland.

The Amber Train is a Baltic cooperation project led by AS Operail. The cooperation partners include Estonian Railways, the Latvian and Lithuanian rail freight transport companies LDZ Cargo and LTG Cargo, and the HHLA TK Estonia loading terminals in Muuga and Kaunas Intermodal Terminal in Lithuania. The journey of the Amber Train was a test run. “We’ll see how the loading of goods, border operations, and the exchanging of documents and data function,” commented Raul Toomsalu, Chairman of the Management Board at AS Operail. After evaluation of the test run, regular rides on the Muuga-Kaunas-Muuga route should be offered twice a week.

One of the customers on the test drive was DB Schenker. According to Janek Saareoks, CEO of Schenker Baltics, two bulky shipments were loaded by Schenker onto the first train departing from Muuga, one headed towards France and the other towards the Netherlands. “Our ambition is to create a regular and busy transport corridor to Central Europe and back to Estonia. A train is a considerably more environmentally friendly means of transport, and furthermore, the new solution will help to alleviate the problems created by janthe chronic lack of truck drivers in the sector,” mentioned Janek Saareoks.

The Amber Train aims to transfer goods that were previously transported from Estonia to Western Europe via the Baltic States by truck and from Finland to Estonia by sea to rail, and thus significantly help to reduce harmful emissions. While on the road each goods trailer or container is transported by a single truck, one train can carry dozens of trailers. “Rail transport burns 4 times less fuel, emits 6 times less CO2 and is 28 times safer than road transport. For example, the Amber Train improves traffic safety on the Tallinn-Pärnu highway. It helps to remove over 7,500 trucks from the roads every year,” said Raul Toomsalu.

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