Operail DF7G locomotive in Estonia (Photo: Operail/Romet Liivamägi)

ESTONIA: National rail freight, wagon leasing and repair group Operail reports that it has lost more than half of its traffic volumes as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Operating income in the first half of 2022 was €30m, down from €37m in the first half of 2021, with a loss of €1·6m compared to a profit of €2·6m in the first half of last year.

Chairman of the management board Raul Toomsalu said freight in Estonia and Finland totalled 4 million tonnes in H1 2022, 43% less than the same period last year.

‘This is due to the disruption of the transit trade of Russian fertilisers and Belarusian oil products caused by sanctions imposed over the war in Ukraine’, he said on July 29. ’At the same time, we are glad to see that multimodal transport volume in TEU was 43% higher compared to the same period last year.

‘We are now working towards finding a replacement to the sanctioned volumes and increasing the efficiency of our activities.’

Income from wagon rental activities was 2% higher than the same period last year.

Operail is working towards keeping its wagons away from high-risk regions. Toomsalu said it does not have any direct or indirect Russian or Belarusian clients, and all wagons are rented to European companies: the biggest markets are Estonia (30%), Lithuania (almost 30%), Ukraine (20%) and Germany (15%).

Operail wagons also operate in Latvia, Finland, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Mongolia and China. Some are also temporarily in Russia.

Operail expects further sanctions to be imposed in the second half of the year will have an even greater impact, and the year will likely end with a loss.

‘In co-operation with our Ukrainian colleagues, the Baltic countries and Poland, we are looking for ways to contribute to exporting grain from Ukraine’, he added.