Russia slams brakes on ‘salmon train’ project

PLANS to launch a ‘salmon train’ service carrying seafood from Norway into the heart of China have been postponed because of problems with the Russian authorities.

Due to have started this month, the 6,500km (4,000 mile) route from Narvik to Xi’an via Finland and Moscow would have been one of the world’s longest rail freight journeys.

But the Norwegian magazine Moderne Transport reports Narvik’s port director Rune Arnøy saying that he had not yet received permission from the Russians so the venture has been shelved until the summer.

‘Until we get a clear signal from the Russians, we must delay the first train of fresh salmon,’ he added.

However, it is likely that the coronavirus outbreak, which has seriously disrupted salmon shipments to China, would have led to a similar decision in any case.

The project, which has been on the cards for almost 20 years, had created a lot of excitement in Norway.

The country has seen great unease among environmentalists over the rising number of seafood carrying flights to Asia, and increasing congestion on its roads from fish trucks.

Depending on the number of refrigerated wagons, each salmon train journey could have eliminated the need for dozens of flights.

While the journey would have taken up to ten days, a new technology product called BluWrap is able to double the life of foodstuffs. This would have kept the salmon fresh throughout.

Narvik is now waiting for a clear signal from the Russians, who have recently changed the rules governing the overland transportation of fresh food.

Arnøy believes the project has huge potential. But because of tariff barriers and often different rules in each country on transporting fresh food, launching such an ambitious project does not always run smoothly.