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Electrically driven roundwood train transports to Kemi bioproduct mill have started

The transport of roundwood by train to Metsä Group's Kemi bioproduct mill has started for trial run of the mill.VR's first roundwood train from Rovaniemi to the Kemi mill was operated electrically on Friday, 21 April. VR and the client designed the highly efficient and environmentally friendly solution together to ensure the supply of wood by railway transport to the Kemi bioproduct mill.

Another milestone in the commissioning of Metsä Group’s bioproduct mill in Kemi was reached, when VR’s first electrically driven roundwood train arrived at the mill on the morning of 21 April. This is a significant step, which the two companies have been preparing together for a long time.

“We have prepared this important project for several years in close cooperation, and we are finally ready to start the transports. In large-scale industrial investments, the efficiency of transports 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 transports, bringing efficiency to transports,” says Eljas Koistinen, Senior Vice President, VR Transpoint.

More wood with less emissions

Annually, five million cubic metres of roundwood will be transported to the mill by rail. In practice, it means eight to ten trains every day. Because the volume of wood is so high, the companies have designed an efficient and environmentally friendly and seamless solution for receiving the wood, loading it, transporting it by rail and unloading it at the mill.

Wood will be transported to the new Kemi mill from a much larger area than at present. Although the average distance travelled by the roundwood deliveries is increasing, emissions are reduced by 20 per cent per cubic metre due to effective railway transports. We have built an efficient solution for wood deliveries to Kemi that is in line with our emission reduction targets. The deliveries are driven by electric locomotives and complemented by electrically operated autonomous woodyard cranes,” says Hannu Alarautalahti, SVP, Production from Metsä Forest.

The transports are operated by VR’s new electric and diesel locomotives. The advanced features of the locomotives are used in the transports. The Vectron electric locomotives can handle loads of up to 2,500 tonnes, which means approximately 20–25 per cent more wood per train. VR has created several pendulums that are based on closed wagon rotation, where the same wagon body rotates between a certain loading and unloading station. The efficiency of the transport system is also based on perfectly fine-tuned wagon rotation: the time between two consecutive loadings, including all the stages, takes only half the time of an average roundwood transport. The bioproduct mill’s railway transports will require a total of more than 400 dedicated wagons.

Operational reliability through investments

Investments in modern rolling stock regarding locomotives as well as wagons are part of ensuring operational reliability and logistics efficiency. Traffic infrastructure has also been considered from the very start of the project and planned together with the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency. The factory’s private track enables the transport of wood by electric locomotives all the way to the factory.

Metsä Group’ bioproduct mill in Kemi will start its operations in the third quarter of 2023. VR Transpoint is enabling a major investment of the forest industry for the second time, as Metsä Group also selected it as a partner for the pulp transports of the Äänekoski bioproduct mill in 2016.