Russian Railways and VR Group discuss direct rail link between Russia and Finland
The annual meeting on the Russian-Finnish direct rail link took place in Helsinki on 3-4 December 2015. The Russian delegation was headed by Anatoly Krasnoshchek, First Vice President at Russian Railways, and the Finnish party by Mikael Aro, President of the VR Group (Finnish Railways).
Summing up the meeting, Anatoly Krasnoshchek stressed that a constructive dialogue between the railway companies of the two countries was made possible by an atmosphere of mutual trust and careful attention to the arguments of the partners. Close ties between Russian Railways and VR Group, based on a strategic approach, would contribute to the dynamic development of Russian-Finnish cooperation in the field of railway transport, said the First Vice-President.
During the meeting, the participants discussed the results of passenger and freight traffic in 2015 and the projections for 2016.
Between January-October 2015, 366,000 passengers travelled on the Finnish-Russian railway route. To maintain the level of passenger traffic, Russian Railways and the VR Group agreed to keep fares at current levels on the "Leo Tolstoy" service until 10 December 2016. The two sides also discussed optimising the train timetable.
To increase the attractiveness of rail travel between Finland and Russia, a number of additional measures will be introduced: a system of flexible fares for individual and group passengers, additional services, including special trains for the Christmas and New Year holidays, and the transportation of passengers' vehicles travelling by train between Moscow - Helsinki, as well as a number of marketing initiatives on the Allegro trains.
The two sides noted the impact of the global economic crisis on freight transportation. In January-October 2015, the volume of traffic through the railway border crossings between Russia and Finland decreased by 12% compared to the same period in 2014. In these 10 months, 10.3 million tons of freight were transported. The parties expect, however, that the trend towards stabilisation and a slight increase in the volume of freight will result in a decrease of no more than 10% by the end of 2015.
The parties also noted that the transit of containerised cargo between Russia - Finland increased by 41% during January-October 2015.
In addition, Russian Railways and the VR Group discussed the continuation of the current experiment on transporting a variety of goods using electronic consignment notes and outlined its further expansion in 2016 by offering a wider range of freight and stations for their departure and destination.