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Study: Rail Baltica freight transport has potential on the Adriatic line

Rail Baltica
Rail Baltica

A study was completed under the leadership of economist Erik Terk, which evaluated long-term competitiveness of rail transport with other modes of transport and the competitiveness of Rail Baltica with geographically distant transport channels.

Terk evaluates that the future for freight trends on rail transport is bright and sees Rail Baltica having significant potential in the Adriatic as a transit corridor between distant markets. "Forecasting the future carriage volumes that move along Rail Baltica, we should not give in to the notion that Rail Baltica will only be competing for near region trade flows," said Erik Terk, professor of Tallinn University, who led the analysis.

The Adriatic Sea transport channel has a lot of potential for Rail Baltic. The transport channels connecting the Baltic with the Adriatic region shows great potential for Rail Baltica, as it will likely carry both local as well as transit freight.

"These goods might come from Southeast or Central Europe, for instance, but also elsewhere, Asia for instance," Terk said. "Instead of moving to Northern Europe first and then around Europe, the goods could enter some Adriatic port via the Suez Canal and continue their journey north from there along Rail Adriatica, and Rail Baltica after that."

The study lists Finland in the north and India in the south as countries of strategic importance for Rail Baltica in the context of the Adriatic corridor, to which countries in between can be counted as well, such as Austria, the Czech Republic, and Turkey.

According to the findings of the study, in the early years of Rail Baltica, goods connected with Southeastern and Central Europe, including Turkey, have a bigger potential. "Today trade between Finland and India is still modest, and random in nature. However, according to forecasts, the Indian economy could make up approximately 10 percent of the world economy already by 2030. Considering the demand arising from that, we can assume that the Finnish industrial sector will adapt," Terk said.

According to the study’s projections, goods from Finland will make up between 50-75% of the total freight moved along Rail Baltica, with local exports adding to that in the Baltic states.

Based on the overall assessment, freight transport trends will be favorable for Rail Baltica in 2030-2050, as the price of freight transportation by sea measured in comparable prices is not expected to decrease. The cost of road transport is expected to increase, the study states.

According to Kristjan Kaunissaare, the Estonian project coordinator of Rail Baltica, the analysis confirms - as in previous analyzes of Rail Baltica -that the area served by Rail Baltica is mainly related to freight traffic between Central Europe and the Baltic States, and also to large volumes of cargo moving through Finland and Northwest Russia.

"The results of the survey confirm previous research, but further explains from where and how the goods move to the Adriatic ports. The potential of goods moving towards India on the Rail Baltica's trade flows is significant. However, we should also evaluate the precise movement of goods on the railways in Central Europe, located in the Adriatic canal," said Kaunissaare.

In total, 35 experts were interviewed from January to March this year, including 19 of them from abroad and 16 from Estonia.

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