Sustainable Transport in the Barents Region project
About WP 3 Heavy transport system (railways)

The first STBR phase dealt with the N.E.W. Corridor/Barents Link, a railway between Russia, Finland, Sweden and Norway; and a basic understanding of the transport needs in the corridor was reached.


In November 2005, the High Level Group of the EU Commission identified the major trans-European transport axes between the enlarged EU and its new neighbours. The Northern Axis was among them, which includes the multimodal connection 
Narvik-Haparanda/Tornio-Vartius/Kivijarvi-(St.Petersburg); that is the N.E.W. Railway Corridor/ Barents Link.

The Group recommends to the Commission and the Member States that all Action Plans under the European Neighbourhood Policy should reflect the Group’s recommendations.

Following this, it is necessary to identify and specify the characteristics and other features of the Corridor more in detail so that the up-coming negotiations between the EU and Russia, as well as among the Partners, will be based on adequate information and common understanding of the railway’s upgrading needs.

An assessment of and a proposal for upgrading and harmonising railway standards and practices throughout the connection, form the main content of WP 3 in STBR II. The assessment is complemented with a pilot project for testing railway operations in the corridor and specifying feasible operating models for railway traffic between Russia and the Nordic Countries.

Two subprojects are proposed

  1. Establishment of the N.E.W. Railway Corridor/Barents Link in the Barents Region
  2. Pilot project and operating model for timber transport between Russia and Nordic Countries

  WP contact
  Bo-Erik Ekblom
County Administrative Board of Norrbotten
  WP Steering Group
  • Bo-Erik Ekblom, County Administrative Board of Norrbotten
  • Morgen Yngvesson, SCA Forest Products AB
  • Kari Konsin, RHK, Finnish Rail Administration
  • Mikael Eriksson, Swedish National Rail, Northern Region
  • Jernbaneverket
  • Johnny Johansson, Sveaskog
  • John Fagerbo, Billerud, Karlsborg
  • Martti Miettinen, BEATA Secretary
  • Eero Sirviö, VR Cargo
  • Timo Mäntylä, VR Cargo
  • Marko Mäenpää, STBR II Secretariat



Rail - Subprojects for WP3


Two subprojects for WP3 has been launched:

1. Procurement of a rail transport pilot project for STBR II
      Contractor:   Railize International AB

2. Status Report of the Northern Axis development in the Barents Region

  Subproject # 1

Procurement of a rail transport pilot project for STBR II

Project period
First phase planning and technical specifications: April - October 2006. 
The second optional phase: December 2006 – November 2007.

A development plan for railways has been devised in 2001 within the North Calotte co-operation. A pre-study has been conducted for a full scale test with gauge change technology; this initiative will continue during 2006. Various development activities are ongoing in a IIIB project “Nordkalottens Logistik”, for example a feasibility study for a joint railway terminal for Tornio-Haparanda.

Currently timber transports from northern Russia by rail are carried out with wagons from a Finnish terminal to Haparanda. Therefore loading operations between truck and train are needed twice. A pre-study was done in 2003 that looked into a new transport concept utilising a train equipped with gauge switch technology. The associated industry considers it important to have direct import by rail from Russia to decrease the need for road transports. STBR Case study 2005 studied the prerequisites for timber transport on Barents Link/NEWcorridor and the use of Russian terminals.

Barents region is rich with natural resources and has a diversity of economical activity. The challenges are usually somehow connected to the peripheral geographical location. The population and the economical activities are both concentrated into a few central spots. Between them the communication and transport networks are not always ideal. The transport infrastructure is not enough developed to override the effects of partially flawed communications. At the same time, the development in technology and institutional settings to overcome and eliminate the effects of borders has to be supported to enable it to be adopted into use within rail transports.

There are many obstacles to be cleared in order to facilitate direct imports of timber from Russia.

  • Import organisation with local presence in Russia must be strengthened in the same manner as has happened in southern Karelia and in the Baltic

  • Certain focused investments must be made by import companies in Russia

  • Timber terminals in Russia that are well situated must be utilized

  • The administrative obstacles that currently prohibit operating and running with compatible wagons must be removed

  • The question concerning wagon technology in running direct transports Russia-Sweden via Finland must be resolved

Short of the assignment 

  • Studying and examining the prerequisites for starting up direct timber transports on rail from Russia to forest industries in Sweden – and eventually also to forest industries in Finland and Norway. The work should concentrate on finding a solution that defines both the applicable wagon technology and the transport administration/organisation framework. This solution needs to be acceptable to the main clients of the transports.

  • Production of a transport plan, preliminary transport cost calculations and a proposal for administrative organisation concerning the ownership of the associated wagon fleet

  • Preparing the rail traffic operators and the owners of the railway infrastructure for the concrete demonstration transports

  • Finally, the assignment includes creating an implementation plan for these demonstration transports for direct import of timber

Project objectives

  • The project aims at continuing the work that began in STBR I, i.e. strengthen cooperation and sustainable development to get the entire Barents Region positively affected. Border crossing direct transports must be made easier and the technical, economical and administrative barriers – those connected to border crossing points or otherwise – must be lower. In STBR phase I some concrete measures were identified to help overcome the difficulties of commencing with direct timber transports. The project should therefore study and make preparations for concrete demonstration transports that can be carried out in real-life in the succeeding stage during 2007. 

  • Remove the technical and institutional obstacles prohibiting border crossing transports on Barents link and N.E.W. corridor.

  • The solution concerning wagon technology has to be acceptable to the relevant authorities and should also contain a proposal for the wagon ownership model.

  • The particular stipulations and regulations regarding border crossing transports (within the description of the transport plan) have to be agreed between the authorities of Sweden, Finland and Russia.

  • Previous experiences regarding handling operations in Russian loading locations or terminals along Barents link and N.E.W. corridor have to be collected for analysis and for further development.

Project’s scope

An implementation plan for direct timber transport on rail from Russia is going to be produced. The implementation plan must include

  • a transport plan

  • calculations

  • administrative regulations

  • technical regulations for border crossing transports Russia-Finland-Sweden

  • a proposal for the wagon ownership model

The plan must be approved by transport clients, infrastructure owners, authorities/ administrations and traffic operators together with wagon owners.

The physical demonstration transports are going to be arranged in real-life after the technical adaptation of a group of wagons.


  Subproject # 2

Status Report of the Northern Axis development in the Barents Region

Project period
Project period: May - September 2007.

Project objectives

The strategic objective of the status report is to harmonize and coordinate approaches and to produce material that would effectively remove confusion when Barents actors are presenting their East-West corridor initiative(s) to national and EU decision makers.  The study objectives on a more concrete level are to collect and present information from the current and past studies and other relevant projects in a harmonized way. Main development projects and their objectives are also identified so that a common basis is provided for further measures as they are prepared and carried out by different forums and project groups. 

Project’s scope

The Study’s scope consists of the following

  • Collecting past and current studies and other relevant material

  • Identifying the location, actors, objectives and emphasizes of the past and cur-rent improvement proposals.

  • Analysing the projects and their locations, actors, objectives and emphasizes and how they differ from comparable aspects of the corridor.

  • Comparing the problems, findings and recommendations these projects mention.

  • Proposing main improvement projects and outline how they might proceed.

  • Making a proposal how different groups and forums could cooperate and how this corridor should be presented outside so, that all different projects and corridor names don’t create confusion. 

Projects and initiatives which should be analysed are

  • STBR I and II

  • N.E.W. corridor

  • NEW corridor AS

  • Barents Link

  • Barents Link Oy

  • Barents Link Forum

  • Nordic Transport Corridor

  • Northern Axis project of the Commission

  • BEAR (Barents Euro Arctic Rail)

  • Belkomur Railway

  • Some others?

Project's outcome

A structured presentation of all the studies and working groups that have developed the corridor over the past years.  A report where all the improvement projects concerning the corridor are collected together and defined as regards their locations, actors, objectives, emphasizes, similarities and differences.  A clear map where the location of all the projects are presented.  A concrete and feasible proposal for a future framework of project cooperation.  A proposal how this corridor should be presented so that all different projects and corridor names don’t continue to create confusion.  Recommendations of other measures that may benefit the corridor development 

Optional Project

Based on the Study’s progress and results the second stage of the Project may be considered. The potential follow-up stage is defined at a later stage, but it may include joint meetings/seminars/public presentations, and production and printing of presentation material, such as brochures and printed maps. Any decision of launching an optional project stage will be taken when adequate results of the first stage are available and the Project’s Steering Group and the STBR II Management Group have considered them properly.   Expertise input concerning the optional project will be negotiated with the supplier before start-up.  



 Updated: 10/17/2007