State Secretary of the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Matti Anttonen, has explained reasons for the delay in the making of the Arctic Railway stretching from Kirkenes, Norway, to Rovaniemi, Finland with further links to Tallin, Estonia
Local news report indicated that the initiative to construct a railway from Kirkenes, Norway to Rovniemi, Finland came from Finland and was well received on the Norwegian side. The idea was later followed with additional opportunity of a tunnel from Helsinki to Tallinn with a direct link to the European railway network. All this rests on a belief that the Northern Sea Route (NSR) will provide a significant increase in trade shipping to and from the Far East.
According to High North News, the minister said the government is awaiting a report of a study to consider rail freight demands in the proposed corridor, adding that “it boils down to a question of what to freight along this railway. We are at present waiting for a large report, or a study, that can say something about this.
“Maybe the most important thing will be the moment of realizing that there is a proper railway from Tallinn to Europe – there is no such as the moment. In addition, if it becomes a reality, so that one can transport a container fast and efficiently from Tallin to Warzaw, Berlin, Belgrade or anywhere else in this part of Europe, then that is a situation that is completely different from the current one.
“A Rail Baltica can change this image. A railway from Tallinn will have European rail track dimensions. There is an existing problem with Russian and European railway dimensions not being the same, and I do not know how we should handle that.
According to Anttonen,”it is vital to keep in mind that we only have this one railway now. I am convinced that the Swedish mining industry will keep using the port of Narvik. The iron ore can only travel via rail and now, they are maximizing the use of that capacity. The Arctic Railway and a Tallinn tunnel are still in their very early stages and we will await the study.
“On this major railway, the constant question is: What should be freighted here? I have no idea. We know that at some point the forests will grow faster in the High North, because of both higher temperatures and to some extent also the CO2 contents of the air. This means that there will be a lot more timber available, even in northern Finland. We do not know yet how that will affect traffic patterns.
“We need to keep in mind how soon potential container transport from the NSR becomes a necessity. Even though one containership from Maersk has already traveled the route, the hen-and-the-egg question remains; which comes first?