On 28-29 November 2018, Russian Railways and VR Group Ltd. (Finnish Railways) held their annual meeting on issues concerning the direct rail link between Russia and Finland in the Finnish capital Helsinki.
The Russian delegation was led by First Deputy Managing Director of Russian Railways OJSC Anatoly Krasnoshchyok, while Rolf Jansson, President of VR Group, headed the Finnish delegation.
The parties discussed their joint activities in the field of passenger and freight traffic and summarised the cooperation between the railways of Russia and Finland in 2018.
According to Anatoly Krasnoshchyok, the cooperation between Russian and Finnish railways was a good example of a constructive partnership that facilitated the development of good-neighbourly relations and contributed to the achievement of excellent results in the performance of both companies.
In the 10 months to the end of October 2018, the number of passengers transported by rail between Russia and Finland exceeded 464,000, which is almost the same as last year. The Allegro service between St. Petersburg and Helsinki carried more than 406,000 passengers, an increase of 25% compared to the same period in 2017.
The Russian Railways Holding and the VR Group continue to cooperate actively in attracting new passengers to the train services between Russia and Finland. Both companies pursue pricing policies aimed at reducing fares and conduct special marketing activities. Tickets now go on sale 90 days before trains depart. In addition, Allegro trains have undergone a major modernisation to improve passenger comfort and, as the meeting’s participants noted, two trains are now fully modernised with work continuing on the third one and due to be completed before the end of 2018. The last train will undergo modernisation in summer 2019.
In addition, the Finland Station in St. Petersburg has been modernised. An additional waiting room with 200 seats was opened in the Allegro passenger service area, as well as a new café, and passengers benefit from a more convenient inspection system before boarding their train.
The meeting’s participants also noted that rail freight between Russia and Finland in 2018 increased significantly due to the implementation of joint projects in the field of logistics, intermodal transportation and information technologies. As a result, from January to October this year, 13.6 million tons of freight were transported, which is 4.3% more than in the same period last year.
The parties stressed the importance of working together to develop paperless freight transportation technologies. According to the participants at the meeting, this is the first large-scale example of building network cooperation in electronic format at international level, including the state regulatory bodies of both Russia and Finland.
Currently, all empty wagons between Russia and Finland are transported only under electronic documents with an electronic signature. In 2019, Russian Railways and the VR-Group will continue to expand the range of goods exported from Russia to Finland under electronic documents.
The parties also noted the significant potential to develop container traffic with China and other countries in the Asia-Pacific Region and will carry out joint marketing work with potential customers to realise this potential.
The meeting participants positively assessed the experience of conducting joint programmes to develop the potential of the two companies’ personnel. Such programmes contribute to the establishment and development of active interaction between railway experts and the strengthening of professional ties. In this regard, it was considered expedient to continue the practice of implementing joint programmes to exchange experience, as well as to expand them through a joint seminar for the HR departments of the two companies in 2019.