VR Group


VR Group

VR or VR Group ( _fi. VR-Yhtymä Oy, _sv. VR-Group Ab) is a state-owned railway company in Finland, and formerly known as Suomen Valtion Rautatiet "(Finnish State Railways)" until 1922 and Valtionrautatiet "(State Railways)" until 1995. Its most important function is the operation of freight and passenger rail services. Maintenance and construction of the railway network itself is the responsibility of the Finnish Rail Administration (Ratahallintokeskus - RHK). Both operation and network were originally carried out by the parent company "Valtionrautatiet", which split into the two current ones in 1995.

Companies in the VR group also provide road freight and bus services, carry out catering activities and real estate management, and provide data, technological, and telecommunications services for the transport and logistics sectors. The group owns a bus company Pohjolan Liikenne and a road freight haulage company Transpoint.

Finnish trains have a reputation for being spacious, comfortable and clean. The scenery surrounding the railway lines is considered to be of outstanding natural beauty, especially in Eastern Finland where there are many lakes. Because in most parts of Finland the density of population is low, Finland is not very well suited for railways. Commuter services are nowadays rare outside the Helsinki area, but there are express train connections between most of the cities. As in France, passenger services are mostly connections from various parts of the country to the capital, Helsinki. In addition there are also good ExpressBus and aeroplane connections, both of which are generally little or a lot more expensive than trains. Buses are sometimes faster and/or cheaper than trains (e.g. Helsinki-Pori).

VR also provides car transport services on certain routes. There are six stations that allow loading/unloading of cars on trains: Helsinki, Turku and Tampere in the south, Oulu further north, and Rovaniemi and Kolari in Lapland. Car transport trains also stop at other stations along the way for normal passenger transport.

The only international passenger rail services from Finland are to Russia. There are two passenger trains a day to Saint Petersburg, called Sibelius and Repin, and one overnight train to Moscow via Saint Petersburg called Tolstoi. There are plans to modernise the tracks on the Helsinki - Saint Petersburg line to enable them to support higher speed Pendolino trains. International freight traffic is mostly concentrated to the four railways across the Russian border, but there is also a connection to the Swedish rail network in Tornio and rail ferry connections from Turku to Stockholm, Sweden and to Travemünde, Germany.

Both domestic and international freight services are provided by [http://www.vrcargo.fi VR Cargo] , part of VR Group.

Altogether the group of companies includes 21 companies employing a total of about 14,400 persons. The President and CEO of the VR group of companies is Henri Kuitunen.

History

The Finnish State Railways was founded by the Senate of Finland in 1860.Fact|date=March 2007 As Finland was a Grand Principality under Imperial Russia, railways were built to the broader Russian track gauge of RailGauge|1524|lk=on, rather than to the Western European standard gauge of RailGauge|sg|lk=off. The first rail line between Helsinki and Hämeenlinna was opened in 1862. An extension from Riihimäki to the new Finland Station in Saint Petersburg was opened in 1870. The entire line was owned by the Finnish State Railways, even though parts of it were built on Russian soil. Between 1875 and 1950 most private broad-gauge Finnish railways were incorporated into the State Railways, such as the Hanko-Hyvinkää Railroad which was the first private railroad in Finland, and the first one to be sold to the state in 1875.

The Finland Railway Bridge across the River Neva in Saint Petersburg, opened in 1912, connected the Finnish State Railways to Russian Railways. Following Finnish independence, the Russian part of the line was handed over to Russian authorities. As of 2007, only one private railway company exist in Finland, the Karhula-Sunila Railroad, a short branch line with freight traffic only, in Karhula, near Kotka. However several museum railways exist that are unrelated to VR Group.

The Finnish Railway Museum in Hyvinkää is the official company museum.

Travel time and speed

Travel time and speed by fastest train connections from/to Helsinki after 3 September 2006.

Carriages

Of locomotive hauled passenger coaches, VR has four main types:
*"Blue" carriages - popularly known as such due to their blue and white liveries. Once the mainstay of VR's network, they are have now been largely replaced on most long distance services starting from Helsinki. They are still extensively used on Turku-Tampere services. Top speed is usually 140 km/h.
*"Red" carriages - similar to the "blue" coaches, but with a red and cream livery, different seat layout and repositioned entrance doors, mainly used for locomotive-hauled commuter services to and from Helsinki during hush hours, occasionally also in place of the blue carriages in long-distance services. Top speed is 140 km/h.
*Single-deck InterCity carriages - used on many routes, including the Helsinki-Saint Petersburg "Sibelius" train. Top speed is 160 km/h.
*Double-deck InterCity 2 carriages - extensively used on the Helsinki-Tampere route. Many long distance trains consist of both InterCity and InterCity 2 coaches. Built in Finland by Transtech Oy, these are VR's most modern carriages.

1st class carriages are distinguished by a yellow stripe above the windows. On the "Blue" carriages restaurant cars are distinguished by a red stripe above the windows. Aggregate cars (used on InterCity trains on non-electrified track) are distinguished by a blue stripe above the windows.

The last wooden-bodied carriages were withdrawn by the mid-1980s. Prior to the 1970s these had been the mainstay of VR's passenger rolling stock.

leeping cars

VR also operates sleeper services between Helsinki/Turku and Lapland, which also include car-carrying (motorail) waggons. New double-deck sleeping carriages (including rooms with "en suite" showers and toilets) were introduced on the Helsinki-Rovaniemi service in the 2000s. These wagons are painted in a red-and-white livery similar to the InterCity coaches. Other overnight services (Turku-Rovaniemi and Helsinki-Kolari) are operated by older "blue" sleeper carriages.

Electrification was extended from Oulu northwards to Rovaniemi, but not the full way to Kemijärvi. In 2006, direct sleeper services were controversially discontinued beyond Rovaniemi (to Kemijärvi) as to the new double-deck sleeping carriages were unable to operate with diesel haulage. The sleeper service to Kemijärvi was restarted in March 2008, with new "aggregate" carriages converted to use 1,500 V electrification of the sleeper cars between Rovaniemi and Kemijärvi. Sleeper services to and from Joensuu were withdrawn in 2006, but with the opening of the new direct line between Lahti and Kerava, this has allowed the acceleration of daytime services.

Freight waggons

The Finnish loading gauge allows the operation of freight vehicles considerably larger than most other railways in the European Union. Containers can be double-stacked and road trailers (often of VR's subsidiary Transpoint) can be easily accommodated on ordinary flat waggons. Much of the freight on the VR network is carried from Russia in Russian waggons, including large capacity eight-axle oil tank waggons.

VR also has a one-third ownership of SeaRail, a specialist operator of freight waggons designed for through running (via ferry) to Sweden and elsewhere in Western Europe.

Multiple units

VR currently operates one class of diesel-powered multiple units and four classes of electric-powered multiple units.

The Sm3 class Pendolino is the VR's "flagship", mainly connecting largest cities to the capital.

Helsinki area commuter services are largely operated by classes Sm1, Sm2 and (the newest) Sm4 electric multiple units (EMU).

A new class of high speed EMUs will be built for Karelian Trains. This is a joint venture between VR and Russian Railways which will operate the Helsinki-Saint Petersburg service from 2009.

Czech-built single carriage diesel multiple units (VR Dm12 class) are currently being introduced on secondary services, such as the Parikkala-Savonlinna branch line.

Multiple unit classification system

The multiple unit classification system follows a similar logic as the locomotive classification system: the first letter signifies the power source (in addition to electric and diesel, gasoline (B, "bensiini") and wood gas (P, "puukaasu") have been used), followed by the letter m ("moottorivaunu") signifyng a multiple unit, followed by a serial number.

Commuter traffic in Helsinki area

VR runs commuter traffic in Helsinki Metropolitan Area. See VR commuter rail.

Footnotes

See also

*ExpressBus
*Karelian Trains "(jointly owned by VR and RZD to operate Helsinki - Saint Petersburg trains from 2009)"
*List of Finnish government owned companies
*List of railway companies
*List of railway lines in Finland
*Public transport in Helsinki
*Russian Railways
*SJ "(Sweden)"
*Transpoint
*Transportation in Finland
*Transtech Oy "(Finnish rolling stock manufacturer)"
* Finnish Railway Museum

External links

* [http://www.vr.fi VR]
* [http://www.rhk.fi/english/index.html Finnish Rail Administration]
* [http://www.dlc.fi/~srhs/srhseng.htm Finnish Railway History Society]
* [http://www.rautatie.org Finnish Railway Museum]
* [http://www.europrail.net/ For Eurail and Finland Rail Passes]
* [http://www.kotimaki.com/rautatie/ Railway page for Finland (maintained by Kimmo Kotimäki)]
* [http://www.transtech.fi Transtech Oy (Finnish rolling stock manufacturer, formerly Talgo Oy)]
* [http://www.steam.dial.pipex.com/trains/finland01.htm Steam Locomotives in Finland Including the Finnish Railway Museum]


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