Rail travel to the efficient freight transport of the future

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Full attention was focused on freight transport by road, rail and sea when SCA Logistics, Sundsvall Logistikpark and the Swedish Transport Administration invited delegates to celebrate the infrastructure investments that are currently laying the foundation for even more efficient freight transport in the region. The day was arranged immediately following to the annual Logistikdag Mitt event in Sundsvall, run by the Mid Sweden Chamber of Commerce.

Elegant first-class carriages dating back to the 1960s, on loan from the Swedish Railway Museum in Gävle, set a grand tone for the start of the Logistics days in Sundsvall. Delegates were welcomed on board at Sundsvall Central Station and could look forward to a unique journey on freshly laid and refurbished industrial tracks via Bergsåker, Birsta, Maland and out to Tunadal, where the new intermodal terminal can be found adjacent to the new SCA Logistics container port.

New routes save time

This major project involving SCA, the Swedish Transport Administration and the municipality of Sundsvall, which has finally been linked together, has taken almost 20 years – starting with the very first permit application – to bring to fruition. The new tracks and the relocation of the intermodal terminal from its former site at the Central station of Sundsvall for Tunadal mean that the Swedish Transport Administration is expecting passing freight services to save substantial amounts of time. Linking the Ådalen Line to the Central Line in Bergsåker will allow rail transport from inland routes to carry on with their journeys directly without having to turn around in Sundsvall as they used to. This is just one example of a streamlining initiative, saving two hours, as well as bringing out environmental benefits and ensuring that fewer trains run through the city.

Billions are being invested in industry in the Sundsvall region, and lots of new homes are being built. The extensive investments in infrastructure on the part of the municipality and the Swedish Transport Administration are being implemented on account of the massive increase in the need for transport resulting from this expansion. The intermodal terminal has been turned into reality by municipal company Sundsvall Logistikpark and will welcome its first freight train on 11 December 2023. The new transport hub has enough space to cope with freight trains up to 700 metres in length, representing a major efficiency boost compared to the previous 350-metre limit.

Certified sustainability for logistics park

Sven Magnusson has worked as the CEO of Sundsvall Logistikpark since 2016, and told us during the train journey that the construction work was completed within budget and ahead of schedule, and that the terminal sailed through its final inspection. The facility is also the first logistics park in Sweden – and probably Europe – to hold BREEAM Infrastructure (formerly CEEQUAL) sustainability certification at Excellent level.

“It all turned out so much better than we’d anticipated. We decided to build cheaper, better and faster – and that’s what we managed to do,” said Magnusson, who expressed a great deal of appreciation for the fact that the enhanced partnership with the Swedish Transport Administration and SCA worked so well, despite a few challenges.

“These initiatives have paved the way for new opportunities, and I think it’s difficult to form a picture of them. There are certainly freight flows in Sweden today where other routes have been sought because the terminal here in Sundsvall has been too small to date,” said Magnusson.

Double capacity for container port

As soon as the train reached Tunadal and the logistics park, our journey continued by bus on an internal road heading for the new SCA Logistics container port. With a 15-metre depth, a quay 185 metres long and twice the container capacity of 100,000 TEU, SCA has invested for increasing cargo volumes – and bigger vessels.

Magnus Svensson, President of SCA Logistics, and Terminal manager Peter Gyllroth acted as guides for the tour, explaining that the port was built back in the mid-1960s.

“Ships have grown in size over the last 50 years, and so we needed to take the next step. This investment is helping to ensure that we can continue to develop our opportunities and also secure our competitiveness for the next 50 years,” said Magnus.

When we arrived at one of SCA Logistics warehouses at the port, we found a stage had been built for the day between the pulp bales. Roberto Maiorana, Director General of the Swedish Transport Administration, stepped up as the first speaker.

“I’m very proud and pleased to see how these collective initiatives in the Sundsvall area have become a reality and will now be put into use. This will involve improving conditions for sustainable and efficient freight transport, which is important if Sweden is to continue to function,” he said.

Greater capacity and environmental benefits

The Swedish Transport Administration’s initiatives were worth a total of SEK 1.75 billion. The Director General regards this as money well spent on measures that increase capacity for freight services as well as freeing up capacity for rail services elsewhere on the network, while also creating environmental benefits.

“The new railway of Sweden is taking shape. We’re continuing to refurbish, modernise and construct our railway with investments all over Sweden to make it smarter, more reliable and more efficient,” said Maiorana.

Text: Jennie Zetterqvist
Photo: Håkan Sjödin