Finland and Estonia’s undersea rail tunnel could cost $20 billion by 2040

HELSINKI (Reuters) – The world’s longest undersea rail tunnel between Finland and Estonia could cost up to 20 billion euros ($24.7 billion) and be opened for traffic by 2040, a feasibility study by the two countries said on Wednesday.

Following years of investigations, Helsinki and Tallinn are looking to build a permanent undersea link between the two northern capitals, situated on the opposite sides of the Gulf of Finland.

Tens of thousands of Estonians work in the Helsinki region, many of whom commute over the sea weekly, and many Finnish tourists visit Tallinn.

The proposed 103 km long tunnel would shorten the travel time between Helsinki and Tallinn to about 30 minutes, from at least 90 minutes currently by fast ferry.

Chinese operator Wuhan expects big rise in Europe-bound trains

Wuhan, which operates a link between Wuhan City in central China and Europe, expects around 500 freight trains to head to the West from China during 2018. That compares to 377 trains in 2017, which carried a total of 34,000 containers, according to the official news agency of the Chinese Government, Xinhua.


Latvia and Belarus look to boost rail freight connections

A new express rail freight service which promises delivery times of 28 hours between the Latvian capital Riga and the Belarussian capital Minsk completed a second test journey this week following an inaugural trip between Minsk and Riga in January.

The train consisted of 21 40-foot containers containing textile machinery, 13 grain wagons, and three wagons containing metal products.

The containers were from India and provided by German logistics company, RTSB, and Belarusian operator, Belintertrans. Latvian Railways (LDZ) says this collaboration is evidence of efforts to attract new partners from south Asia, which opens up opportunities to develop new freight solutions and the Latvian transport and logistics sector.

“The creation of a new product – an express freight train between the capitals of Latvia and Belarus – ensures that the owners of freight who would like to use the connection will be able to count on a definite and clear timetable of freight transport in the future,” says LDZ president Mr Edvīns Bērziņš. “The long-term goal is to ensure the regular flow of freight on this route, whose future potential will increase with the development of the Chinese-Belarusian industrial park, The Great Stone.”

Rail freight volumes on the Indra-Bigosava route between Latvia and Belarus totalled 7.6 million tonnes in 2017, an increase year-on-year of 13.9%.

Russia-Vietnam rail freight service tested successfully

RZD Logistics and its Vietnamese partner, Ratraco, which is 35%-held by Vietnam Railways (VR), have successfully completed a test intermodal rail freight service between the Vorsino Freight Village, southwest of Moscow, and Hanoi.

A single TEU loaded with cosmetic products from Russian company Red Line took 20 days to complete the journey, arriving in Hanoi on January 23. RZD Logistics says the equivalent journey by sea would have taken twice as long.

The test shipment was organised under the bilateral cooperation agreement signed between Russian Railways (RZD) and VR in July 2017, and according to RZD Logistics, this inaugural service marks the start of the Russia-Vietnam international transport corridor.

RZD Logistics was responsible for organising the multimodal shipment, beginning with road transport from Red Line’s warehouse, and continuing with the transfer to rail at Vorsino. RZD Logistics’ subsidiary Far East Land Bridge received the freight at the Manchuria-Zabaikalsk border point and supervised transport across China. Ratraco was responsible for the final stage of the journey across Vietnam.