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Metsä Group looks to rail for log transport

27 April 2023
VR’s first train with an electric locomotive transporting roundwood arrived for test runs at Metsä Group’s new Euro2.02 billion Kemi bioproduct mill. This marked a major step in Metsä Group and VR’s long-term cooperation, ensuring the Kemi bioproduct mill’s wood supply by rail.

At the Kemi bioproduct mill, rail transport will account for approximately two thirds of the roundwood consumed. This translates to roughly 5 million cubic metres per year, or around 8–10 trains per day. Large volumes of wood can be transported in an efficient and environmentally friendly way, with wood loading, rail transport and unloading designed to work smoothly.

“Wood will be transported to the Kemi bioproduct mill from a considerably wider area than at present. Although the average roundwood transport distance by train will be longer, rail transport will ensure emissions are reduced by 20 per cent per cubic metre of wood. We’ve built an efficient wood delivery system in Kemi, which is in line with our emissions reduction targets. Wood deliveries by electric locomotives are supplemented by electric autonomous woodyard cranes,” says Hannu Alarautalahti, SVP, Production from Metsä Forest.

The transports are powered by VR’s latest engines. Vectron electric locomotives can handle loads as heavy as 2,500 tonnes, which means approximately 20–25 per cent more wood per train. Several shuttle trains, with a single trainset running between a loading and unloading station, have been set up for transport in Kemi. The efficiency of the transport system also relies on a highly optimised wagon cycle: the time between two successive loading operations can be cut by half compared to average roundwood transport.

All in all, more than 400 wagons will be used for the Kemi bioproduct mill’s rail transport, and the fleet is assigned exclusively to this transport. Traffic infrastructure and related improvements have been addressed from the project’s outset, and they have been designed jointly with the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency. The mill’s private track enables wood transport with electric locomotives all the way to the mill.

“We have prepared this important project for several years in close cooperation, and we are finally ready to start the transport. In large-scale industrial investments, the efficiency of transport and smooth flow of traffic are key factors. Together with the customer, we have created a solution that seamlessly combines the mill’s operations and rail transport, bringing efficiency to transport,” says Eljas Koistinen Senior Vice President, VR Transpoint.

Metsä Group’s Kemi bioproduct mill will start up in the third quarter of 2023.

Source: Metsä Group

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