TALLINN - The chairman of the supervisory board of Eesti Raudtee (Estonian Railways), Edward Burkhardt, has said that the capacity of the railway company was currently higher than that of Estonian ports, adding that he hoped the latter would work to catch up.
"Today Estonian Railways has a greater throughput capacity than do the ports," Burkhardt said, commenting on a survey of the Estonian transit sector's competitiveness from the Center for Strategic Initiatives think-tank.
Burkhardt said his greatest worry was that these ports continued to fall behind in their investment, primarily due to concern over the rapid increase in Russia's port capacity.
He also cited his unease about the continued rail-tariff discrimination by Russian railways and the high port charges in Estonia.
According to Burkhardt, Estonian Railways could handle 50 million tons of total traffic without additional infrastructure investment, provided that the port clients could unload without delays. The current volume is at about the 42-million-ton level.
Estonian Railways' current infrastructure investment plan will bring the railway capacity up to 70 million tons by 2010.
Burkhardt said the railway would have to adjust its investment plans if the traffic-handling developments did not materialize.
Commenting on Burkhard's view of the situation, Riho Rasmann, chairman of the board of the Port of Tallinn, said that the capacity of Muuga Port was currently about 50 million tons and that a coal terminal to be completed in two years would raise the level to 60 million tons.
The Paldiski and Paljassaare ports would add another 10 million tons, which means that the port would achieve 70-million-ton capacity by 2006, while the railway mentioned reaching such capacity in 2010, Rasmann said.
He added that the first problem in connection with the railway was already on hand, referring to the railway administration's decision to suspend the movement of U.S. locomotives on the railway going to Paldiski.
"Consequently, the quality of the railway has to be raised," he said.