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Creating a railway market – the well-functioning cooperation between Fenniarail and UPM started with cross-border traffic and continues with domestic timber transport in Finland

The cooperation between UPM Forest and Fenniarail began in 2018, when UPM Forest chose Fenniarail to handle the transport of imported wood from Russia from border stations to factories. UPM was the first forest industry company to transfer transport to a private operator after the liberalization of competition in cross-border transport, i.e. railway transport between Finland and Russia, that happened at the end of 2016.


"We were looking for better productivity, cost efficiency and better competitiveness. The new cooperation was a significant step for both parties. UPM entrusted a significant flow of raw materials to the responsibility of a new operator, and Fenniarail bravely took the responsibility to bear,"  says UPM Forest's Logistics Manager Esa Korhonen. 

In the newly created multi-operator environment, there was a lot of learning at the beginning, both at the border stations and at the destination stations. With cooperation, the operation got off to a great start and developed.

The cooperation between UPM and Fenniarail in cross-border transport continued closely until the summer of 2022, when the effects of the war in Ukraine stopped the import of wood from Russia.


With a joint proactive attitude and actions, both UPM and Fenniarail were influencing the speedy renewal of the Rail Traffic Act. The new temporary law made it possible to use OSJD/GOST wagons in internal traffic in Finland. This led to, and has also developed, a new and even more comprehensive form of cooperation between the companies. Fenniarail operates a wide range of transports from various departure stations, mainly to the UPM Lappeenranta and Kuusankoski factories. The operations also include maintenance and other organizational transfers of OSJ/GOST wagons under UPM's control. Fenniarail's UPM rail transport continued to grow from the end of 2023 with the additional capacity of Fenniarail's locomotive fleet. 


"The operation has expanded to a level that is important quantitatively and qualitatively in UPM Forest's wood maintenance. Based on experiences, it is good to reflect and plan future activities," Korhonen says.


High-quality sawn and gluelam products travel Finland's longest freight train route from Lapland to the port of Kotka

Since 2015, Keitele Group's sawmill and gluelam factory in Kemijärvi has been producing custom-made sawn timber, planed timber and precisely sized gluelam from northern softwood primarily for the Far Eastern market. Fenniarail started transporting these products from Kemijärvi to Oulu and Kotka in 2016, and the resulting freight train route is still the longest in Finland.

"Over 800 kilometers long railway transport is the first part of the long transport journey of our high-quality products from the production plant to the world market. It has been important to us that the transports have taken place reliably and cost-effectively," says Keitele Group supply chain manager Matti Alanen.

The current global demand for products affects Keitele Group's sales allocation planning, and thus naturally also the logistics implementation needs. According to Matti Alanen, Fenniarail has also been able to provide agile service in changing needs and, for example, in additional transports. The weekly train transport from Kemijärvi to Kotka creates a schedule framework, in addition to which, as needed, trains have been run to, for example, Alholma harbor in Pietarsaari.


Starting in December 2023, Keitele Group's train transports have operated fossil-free with electric locomotives, when Fenniarail's first Siemens Vectron electric locomotive started commercial traffic. In addition to carbon-neutral operating energy, the advantage of electric traction is energy economy, because the braking energy is fed back into the electrical grid.


"Keitele Group's logistic solutions have been thought out ecologically and economically in such a way that there is no unnecessary burden on the environment. The use of train transport itself is part of our sustainable development thinking, but the introduction of the electric locomotive was a step to the next level in terms of environmental friendliness," says Matti Alanen.



The cooperation between Olmar HaminaKotka and Fenniarail is on a close basis


Port operator Olmar HaminaKotka has been using Fenniarail's rail transport for several years. In cooperation with Fenniarail, Olmar is able to offer the entire value chain of logistics in an agile and customer-oriented way, from the yard of the production plant all the way to the ship. In addition to rail transport, the service package includes storage and cargo handling services in ports, as well as, for example, forward transports from the production plant to the trackside as car transports, if necessary.


The cooperation between Fenniarail and Olmar Hamina Kotka (former RP Timber) started in 2017 with the transportation of sawn timber from Kuhmo Oy to the port of HaminaKotka. Since the railway does not reach Kuhmo, RP Timber established an inland terminal in Nurmes for transshipment of goods.


"Kuhmo Oy is a developing and growing production plant that needs diverse logistics to manage its whole. With the help of Fenniarail, we have been able to transfer part of the transport from road to rail and have thus been able to offer a safer and more environmentally friendly form of transport than car rides. The green industry area built by the city of Nurmes is a perfect place for operations because of its location and its concept," says Olmar HaminaKotka's Managing Partner Sanna Selenius.

The goal is to increase transport volumes


In the spring of 2022, the cooperation between Olmar and Fenniarail expanded with Versowood sawnwood transport, when regular rail transports from the Hankasalmi production facility to Hamina were launched. Currently, Olmar HaminaKotka has three regular train departures per month, and the plan is to increase the number of trains in the coming years with investments in locomotives and wagons.


"Finnish sawmill industry values green values and rail transport fits them well. There is a lot of demand for the services and Fenniarail's future investments in locomotive and wagon fleet are very welcome," Selenius mentions.

During the spring of 2023, Fenniarail's new spacious sawnwood wagons have been tested for sawnwood transports, and with the introduction of series-produced wagons, sawnwood transports can be made more efficient compared to previous wagons. Fenniarail's first Vectron electric locomotive also increased the efficiency of transport, when electrified track sections make use of a modern and energy-efficient locomotive.

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