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Estonian Railways: drop in transit is drastic, unexpected

The drop in rail transit traffic between Estonia and Russia that has been a reality since the end of March is drastic and unexpected, requiring the Estonian transit sector to slim down its business, Estonian Railways CEO Sulev Loo says, cites LETA/BNS.

"The number of train pairs has halved. The reason is economic - oil prices are down, Russia is producing less heavy fuel oil and has found better opportunities for selling it via Russian ports. It's as simple as this," Loo told BNS.

The CEO said there was no visible political pressuring behind the fall in the number of train pairs as was speculated by the leader of the Estonian rail workers union, Oleg Tsubarov.

"Things went bad already at the end of last year when the amounts in transit fell everywhere. March was a very bad month for us," Loo said.

He added that companies of the Estonian transit sector are on the lookout for possibilities now to narrow down their business activities.

"If the situation stays as it is, some changes are definitely in store. At the same time, Estonian Railways has nothing much to slim down since 75% of our activities is passenger carriage, where you can't make any concessions."

Therefore, layoffs are not on the table for Estonian Railways now, but they can't be avoided by cargo handlers, Loo said. "Since there are fewer trains, fewer engineers and shunters are needed. This primarily concerns Evr Cargo and E.R.S.," Loo said.

The manager of Estonian Railways said that nothing positive is probably in the cards for the sector. "We are holding a dialogue with Russia to get an idea what could be in store for us. It can drop to zero too, although things probably won't get as bad as that because there's less competition in the shipment of fertilizers," Loo said.

The volume of rail transit traffic between Estonia and Russia has halved, from 12 to six train pairs a day. Ten years ago, in 2006, Estonian Railways received 32.4 trains from Russia per day on the average.

(Source: http://www.baltic-course.com/eng/transport/?doc=119321)


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