Last year, the volume of freight transport through ports decreased by nearly a third, rail transport by 43%

Posted on 5 February 2024, 8:26

According to Statistics Estonia, the volume of freight transport through ports fell by 31% in 2023. A total of 23 million tonnes of goods were transported through Estonian ports, 10 million tonnes less than a year earlier. Estonian railways carried a total of 10.1 million tonnes of freight last year, 43% less than in 2022.

Piret Pukk, a team lead at Statistics Estonia, explained that in 2021, the volumes of freight transport both through ports and by rail increased compared with the previous year, but started to decrease in the following years. “The main reason for the decline is the drying up of East-West freight traffic through Estonia after Russia's invasion of Ukraine,” Pukk added.

In all months of 2023, freight volumes were lower than a year earlier. There was a drop in both the volumes loaded onto and unloaded from vessels. The volume of goods loaded was down by 30%, from 19.9 million to 13.9 million tonnes. The volume of goods unloaded from vessels fell by 32%, from 13.3 million to 9.1 million tonnes.

Freight transport through Estonian ports, 2019–2023

A total of 10.1 million tonnes of freight were transported on Estonian railways in 2023, which is 43% less than a year earlier. Last year, freight turnover* amounted to 766.3 million tonne-kilometres, compared with 1.287 billion tonne-kilometres the year before. Rail freight traffic fell by 40% over the year, as it did in 2022.

Freight transport by rail, 2019–2023


The volume of domestic freight transport increased to over 12 million tonnes in 2021 and 2022 but decreased to 7.2 million tonnes in 2023. The main goods transported within the country were oil shale and shale oil.

Transit freight volumes by rail began to decline as early as mid-2021, but the fall was steeper after the Russian invasion. 9.5 million tonnes of transit goods were transported in 2021 and 3.8 million tonnes in 2022, compared with only 2.1 million tonnes last year. Instead of petroleum products, the most common goods in transit are now metal ores and other mining and quarrying products as well as food products.

Other international freight transport, which also decreased last year, only accounts for a small share of total rail freight volumes.

This news article looks at the total quantities of freight reported by ports and railway enterprises. On the railways, a large proportion of freight is carried by several enterprises, with one carrier transporting goods on the public railway and another on a non-public one, such as a railway owned by a port. As a result, the quantity of certain freight in tonnes is double counted.

* Freight turnover indicates the volume of work (in tonne-kilometres) made while carrying the freight. A tonne-kilometre represents the transport of one tonne of goods over a distance of one kilometre.

See also the dedicated section on transport.

More detailed data have been published in the statistical database

When using Statistics Estonia’s data and graphs, please indicate the source.


For further information:

Helen Maria Raadik
Media Relations Manager
Marketing and Dissemination Department
Statistics Estonia
Tel +372 625 9181

press [at] (press[at]stat[dot]ee)

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