New salmon train route opens up massive export opportunities to rest of Europe

editorial staff

Freight company CargoNet and several salmon exporters have now joined forces to open up a whole new transport route for fish from northern Norway to southern Sweden. From there, it will be sent to Poland, France and England. 

There is good news for the seafood industry today as a new test train packed up with tonnes of salmon left Narvik in Northern Norway to Malmö in the far south of Sweden.

The second train will run on May 22.

Significant growth in seafood production in Northern Norway is expected. The seafood industry needs better transport capacity to efficiently export increased volumes of fresh fish. At the same time, the fishing industry wants to move more seafood from truck to freight train, according to a press release from Vy.

Test trains
In May, CargoNet set up two test trains from Narvik to Malmö directly – fully loaded with fresh seafood – to meet the demand for the industry. The goal of CargoNet is to establish regular weekly and possibly daily departures that link northern Norway and southern Sweden together. From Malmö, salmon can move on to other train connections in Europe, to ferry or to truck. Poland, France and England are among the countries that will get fish from the new direct train.

Direct trains from Narvik to Malmö have several advantages:

  • Time saving: The trip takes 30 hours by direct train, compared to 39 hours today. This means extra shelf life in stores.
  • Sustainability: A full freight train replaces 24 trucks, saving the environment 4,000 tonnes of CO2, 2,800 kilograms of NoX, 1200 kilograms of sulfur dioxide and 15 kilos of particulate matter. Given that there are daily train departures and that they mainly replace trailer traffic, this could save a million tonnes of CO2 per year. Longer shelf life on seafood can also lead to less food waste and increased value creation.
  • Road safety: Freight on the road provides more traffic safety than freight on the road.

One fully loaded train can hold about 600 tonnes of seafood. With daily departures, the new train will have the capacity to carry 120-150,000 tonnes of seafood from Narvik to Malmö this year. Today, about 200,000 tonnes of seafood are transported by rail from Northern Norway a year.

Direct trains
CargoNet previously ran direct trains with salmon to Padborg in Denmark in the year 2000. The market turned out not to be ready for this, and the fish was eventually routed to Oslo instead. The initiative this time is to a greater extent driven by the seafood exporters themselves.

“The direct train to Malmö will streamline the transport of fresh seafood products to markets in Europe. This can contribute to better competitiveness for the seafood industry in Northern Norway, and will result in lower emissions. I would like to pay tribute to the seafood exporters who want to establish this new transport route, and to the carriers who are key suppliers for the industry. We are now looking forward to testing out the route and learning lessons along the way,” said CEO CargoNet Erik Røhne.

“The situation with the coronavirus poses some additional challenges, but the market gives us the belief that it should be possible to make regular departures during the fall. We believe one weekly departure is realistic to achieve this year. However, the goal is to get more departures a week already next year, and maybe daily departures during 2021,” he said.

Cermaq, Lerøy, Nordlaks, Ocean Quality and Norway Royal Salmon are among the seafood exporters who have wanted to set up the test train.

“Because of the long distances and large volumes, trains are a natural and necessary means of transport for transporting salmon from Northern Norway to Europe. With this solution in place, we will have a more complete train solution for the entire region, which can also help to increase transport capacity in the future. We see that using train solutions tailored to our industry can save both time and the environment, while at the same time increasing traffic safety,” said Cermaq logistics manager Ståle Slemmen.

Those with involved in the salmon train project  include the supermarket Rema, grocery wholesaler ASKO, global transport and logistics DSV, and trucking companies Litra and Nor-Log. Rema is already investing in railways, and is one of the customers that was early on the track and was positive about this project.


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