The rail connection between Kouvola and China is very important for Finnish industry, says Olli-Pekka Hilmola, Professor of Railway Logistics at the Technical University of Lappeenranta, who works in Kouvola. He adds a researcher's input into the city's ambitious plans to become a logistics centre between east and west - at the end of the line of the "iron silk road". The factory networks of both Finland and Sweden operate dispersed in Asia and the Nordic Countries, and the transport of semi-fabricated products from one location to another is difficult. Planes are expensive and ships are slow, so the Trans-Siberian Railway would make things considerably faster, Hilmola says.
In addition to the integration of the factory network, easier storage and transport will also increase the innovative possibilities of industry, as Asian semi-finished products, for example, can be easily transported to the North, he observes. The manufacture of electronics and machinery would stand to benefit considerably. The development of rail transport is important in any case, as the growing flood of lorry traffic between Hanko and Russia could soon overwhelm the Finnish highways, said the professor, who had recently driven from Kouvola to Lappeenranta, weaving in traffic the whole way to avoid Russian trucks.