Various types of goods exceeding the weight and dimensions of standard cargo are constantly transported in the railway network using special transport services.
“We transport special cargo such as machinery, reaper binders, tractors, forest machines and large construction elements,” Head of Sales for Special Transport Tomi Nevala lists.
The railway network has a set maximum loading gauge. This may only be exceeded by special transport with a separate permit.
“Special transport services always require more operative planning than usual, and other traffic in the railway network must be taken into account,” Nevala points out.
Construction industry products delivered using project transport services
The VR Transpoint special transport organisation also offers project transport services, where a customer’s products are delivered to the desired location in large units.
“Project transport services may be used for transporting items such as manufacturing plant machinery or construction elements. Sometimes it might make more sense to transport all the foundation pillars for a construction site in one delivery to a location close to the site. After this, the pillars can be unloaded at the construction site in the correct order,” Nevala says.
At its largest, project transport may comprise a number of trains.
“Lately, we have had a number of major breakthroughs in our transport services for the construction industry,” Nevala says.
Transport into Sweden or Russia
Project and special transport often crosses the Finnish borders into Sweden or Russia. Via Russia, goods can be transported all the way into Kazakhstan.
Crossing over into the Russian railway network is no hassle, as the track gauge in Finland and Russia is nearly the same. Cargo transported into Sweden is unloaded and transferred into Swedish wagons at Haaparanta.
The terminal operator at Haaparanta uses a reach stacker that can lift loads of up to 35 tonnes in weight. If necessary, heavy-duty mobile cranes may also be brought in to the terminal.
Correct load methods
Technical specialist Tanja Gomes specialises in transport services headed into Russia.
“Special transport always requires that the customer provides us with very detailed information on the weight and dimensions of the cargo to be transported. We often request dimensional or structural drawings for the cargo. For transport directed into Russia, it is good to have this information as early on as possible, as we need to apply for permits for the transport from Russian authorities,” Gomes says. Once she has received all the necessary information, Gomes draws up a detailed loading plan with drawings.
“Special transport always requires that the customer provides us with very detailed information on the weight and dimensions of the cargo to be transported."
At times, even products not exceeding the maximum loading gauge require a separate loading plan.
“A separate loading plan is required if the load method is not listed in the regulations governing the loading of cargo in rail transport between Finland and Russia. Load method approval ensures the safety of the transport.”
“Customers often ask whether there is a load method suitable for their products. I check this, and if there are no applicable instructions, I will request to have all the necessary details immediately. I will then draw up a loading plan and send it to the Russian authorities for approval.”
As a fluent speaker of Russian, Gomes has no problem securing permits from the Russian railway experts. She also reminds that good loading practices should always be adhered to.
“The load method used must be exactly the same for which a permit has been granted. If it is not, they will not be granted access at the border. If a customer wishes to ensure their cargo is loaded according to the permit, they can attend in person to supervise the loading.
Transport services with a novel approach
Both Tomi Nevala and Tanja Gomes have recently started working at VR Transpoint.
Nevala has a previous career of over ten years in logistics. He has spent the past five years or so managing the department for sea transport at DB Schenker. Gomes worked as a tender engineer at Metso before starting in her current position at VR Transpoint.
What do you find interesting about special transport services?
“Every day at work is different,” Gomes laughs.
“So is every transport operation. That is, we transport so many different types of cargo,” Nevala clarifies.
Some of the projects managed by Nevala that have gained plenty of visibility include the transportation of the giant transformers operating in the Finnish main grid.
“Although transformers have been transported on rails for decades, the transportation of such large items is always impressive. The transformers are literally quite massive.”