First Vice President of Russian Railways Vadim Morozov takes part in annual meeting on Russian-Finnish direct rail link
The annual meeting on the Russian-Finnish direct rail link was held in St. Petersburg on 17-18 November 2014. The Russian delegation was headed by Vadim Morozov, First Vice-President of Russian Railways, while the Finns were led by Mikael Aro, President of the VR-Group.
The sides noted with satisfaction the growth in rail freight between Finland and Russia. Between January and October 2014, about 12 million tons of freight were transported between the two countries, almost 9.5% more than during the same period in 2013.
Vadim Morozov said that thanks to the coordinated work of Finnish and Russian railway staff and employees, as well as the border guards, in May 2014 shipments of iron ore pellets from Kostomuksha Station - Port of Kokkola via the Kivijärvi - Vartius border crossing began using paperless technology and electronic legally valid shipping documents.
Work with the customs authorities is also now carried out electronically, reducing the time for customs clearance from 60 to just 7 minutes.
This technology greatly simplifies the registration procedure for shipments, which allows the optimisation of the whole workflow. In 2015, the parties planned to expand the range of goods shipped using paperless technology and to extend the lessons learned to other Russian-Finnish border crossings.
In the field of passenger transport, despite the difficult economic situation, the parties continue to cooperate actively and develop measures to attract new passengers and tourists to the Russian-Finnish connections. As a result, the volume of traffic has been maintained at the level of 2012, losing 10% compared to 2013, when the growth in shipments accounted for more than 30%.
Since June 2014, the Leo Tolstoy Moscow - Helsinki train includes new RIC carriages. The new rolling stock has improved the quality of passenger service. The Leo Tolstoy train has thus been upgraded, and now food is provided to passengers cars in all classes, but no fare increases have been made.
Since June 2014, Russian Railways has been providing a service on its website for booking electronic tickets on Russian-Finnish trains in both directions. On the Russian Railways' site, passengers can therefore now purchase tickets online not only in Finland, but in the opposite direction as well.
The rail-car transporter service available on the Leo Tolstoy train is enjoying ever increasing demand: since 26 November 2012, it has carried more than 650 vehicles, nearly half of which were transported in the current period in 2014 alone.
"Cooperation between Russian and Finnish railways is a good example of mutually beneficial cooperation. By working together, the two sides have become fine-tuned to each other's perceptions and arguments, which in turn has led to our ability to reach agreements and find joint solutions," said Vadim Morozov.
The parties also agreed to continue organising joint internships for railway staff from Finland and Russia, which were highly effective in establishing cooperation at expert level in 2013 and 2014. They further agreed to continue the dynamic development of Russian-Finnish cooperation in the field of railway transport.