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RBGC 2nd Transnational Roundtable Conference

The 2nd RBGC Transnational Roundtable Conference was held in St. Petersburg, Russia, on 23-24 October 2012. The high-level conference was the opening of the EU-Russia transport policy communication at regional level. The Rail Baltica plans and visions of the EU were portrayed alongside with the views of the transport sector in North-West Russia.

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The conference was opened by Alexei Lvov, Deputy Chairman of the St. Petersburg Committee on Transport and Transit Policy and followed by Chairman of the Committee on transport of North-West Association Eduard Slabikov.

Rail Baltica European Coordinator Pavel Telička emphasized the potential of freight demand as the cornerstone of the north-south axis and gave an update on the recent developments of the structural and financial arrangements of planned 1435 mm UIC standard gauge system — Rail Baltic. Deputy Mayor of Helsinki, Hannu Penttilä, stressed the importance of interconnectivity and interoperability of networks, transport modes and logistic centres to the future of rail transports. Cities of Helsinki and Tallinn have actively started to work together on these themes as the freight and passenger transport volumes between Helsinki and Tallinn keep growing.

The historic importance of Rail Baltica in passenger traffic between St. Petersburg and Berlin was highlighted by the secretary of Berlin Senate Department for Urban Development and Environment, Christian Gaebler. Although the focus in developing Rail Baltica is on freight transportation, Mr. Gaebler reminded that after the modernisation it can become again a significant route for passengers and tourists between Eastern Baltic Sea Region and Middle Europe.

Russian speakers focused mainly on the growing freight flows in North-West Russia. Head of the analytical department of October Railway Center for logistics, Maxim Fischuk, highlighted the interaction of the existing railway network with regional harbours and settled on the issue of “abandoned” trains. Known for his advisory activity, Andrei Karpov presented on the main development tendencies and some particularities of the transport system in North-West Russia. Vsevolod Morozov from the Institute of Regional Development and Transportation expounded the statistical data concerning international cargo transportation in North-West Russia and listed the key-players of international economic activities in the region.

The conference session on logistics development prospects included different stakeholders’ viewpoints. Aleksi Kukkarinen from Innorail Ltd. and Riivo Sinijärv from Baltic Rail AS gave insights to the private operators’ actions and visions on freight logistics in Eastern Baltic Sea Region. Ernestas Vaitkevicius from Mockava Rail Cargo Terminal in Lithuania introduced the “ESTRaB — Efficient Semi-trailer Transport on Rail Baltica” project that supports CargoBeamer company’s new technology for handling freight transport by loading semi-trailers onto trains. Outi Nietola from Finnish Forest Industries Federation represented potential big customers of the operators and highlighted the logistics needs and challenges of the Finnish forest industries sector.

As a final point, Deputy Chief of the off-dock container facility of St.Petersburg port Oleg Krzhechkovsky presented the technologies and policy of “Logistika-Terminal” — subject of the next day’s site visit.