Nurminen puts major exporter on Eurasian tracks

2 November 2021

An export train full of sawn timber departed from Kotka, Finland, towards Chongqing, China, last week. Nurminen Logistics set up the train for Versowood, the largest Finnish producer and exporter of sawn timber. The transiting train carries 41 containers and will arrive in China after a trip of approximately 21 days.
Kotka, the train’s departure point, is a city in southern Finland positioned eastern of Helsinki and very close to the border with Russia. The city has been connected to the New Silk Road with a regular train (2-3 weekly roundtrips) since last June.

Versowood’s train will not be a regular service. However, it is a tailored service, organised according to the shipper’s needs, which uses rail freight as an alternative to reach China. “We use the train when we want to reach the inland customer base in China because by train we get directly to the destination, and the total transportation time is significantly reduced,” said Sami Heikkinen, logistics manager at Versowood. Simultaneously, he didn’t neglect to mention that train transport fits the company’s sustainable development.

Timber boosting eastbound volumes

Nurminen Logistics mentioned that the differences between eastbound and westbound volumes along the New Silk Road are changing. “In the past, export trains have been filled less than import trains, but now this gap has narrowed down,” commented the company.

Packed sawn timber ready to get shipped to China. Source: Nurminen Logistics

The export of timber and wood products towards China is an enabler for a more balanced situation. Since the shortage of containers and the problems in sea freight keep persisting, shippers prefer rail that maintains competitive prices in the meantime. “The capacity is also there”, said Nurminen Logistics, “so we see more exporters turning to rail and filling up trains to China and Japan.

New route opening soon

For the time being, Kotka in Finland is only connected with the Chinese city of Chongqing. As mentioned above, this service runs frequently with 2-3 weekly roundtrips. However, as Nurminen Logistics disclosed, Kotka will acquire a new link with Xi’an during November.

The new service will commence on 20 November and will concern westbound train in the beginning. It seems that Kotka’s proximity both to Russia and Helsinki plays a role in its establishment as a New Silk Road transit point, and Nurminen wants to strengthen its position with more services.

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