The Finnish VR Group is engaged in diverse and persevering collaboration with the Russian Railways (RZD). The common track gauge allows smooth rail transport between our two countries. The good and confidential relations between the railway companies promote business on both sides at all times.
The Allegro train started operations from Helsinki to St. Petersburg in 2010. It led to considerably faster passenger traffic between the countries. Allegro takes passengers from city centre to city centre in just 3.5 hours. Meanwhile, the Tolstoi night train operating between Helsinki and Moscow got new rolling stock last summer. The better-equipped cars, the upgraded train restaurant, and personal service are helping put night train travel on a new upward track.
In the past year the development of the exchange rate of the rouble has had an impact on passenger numbers. At the same time, the economic development in Finland and Russia has affected business travel. Last year more than 400,000 journeys were made on the Allegro, which is about ten percent less than in the record year 2013. However, we staunchly believe that the popularity of train travel between our countries will grow in the future.
Railway logistics serves foreign trade between Finland and Russia to a significant degree in exports, imports, and as a transit route. A third of the rail transport of VR Transpoint involves service to and from Russia. Last year, the transport volume in travel to the east grew by more than 10%.
In spite of the current sluggish economic situation, there will be growing demand for rail transport between Finland and Russia in the future. The rail network will need to be capable of responding to a growing need for transport. From the point of view of the development of cargo traffic and transport for Finnish industry it is important to develop the Imatrankoski-Svetogorsk border crossing point into a border station that serves all goods transport. A bigger proportion of transport between our countries than before would take the route, and more room would become available for fast passenger transport on the Vainikkala line.
Economic development in Finland and Russia affects both train travel and demand for logistics services. We are perseveringly continuing the long-run development of transport to Russia for the benefit of tourism between our countries, as well as business, trade, and industry.
President and CEO of VR-Group