VR Group’s business review for July–September 2022

VR-Group Plc, interim report (Q1 and Q3), 24 October 2022 at 13.45

VR Group’s business review for July–September 2022

The number of journeys in long-distance traffic has returned to the pre-pandemic level 

VR Group’s profitability improved as the number of journeys in long-distance traffic returned to the pre-pandemic level. In freight traffic, the reduction in transport volumes caused by the discontinuation of Eastern traffic has been partially compensated by higher domestic transport volumes. 

July–September 2022 (Q3) in brief: 

  • The Group’s net sales increased by 53.3% to EUR 336.7 (219.6) million. 

  • Comparable operating profit (EBIT) was EUR 25.3 (12.2) million, or 7.5% (5.6%) of net sales. 

  • Operating profit (EBIT) was EUR 26.3 (12.6) million, or 7.8% (5.7%) of net sales. 

  • Cash flow from operating activities was EUR 44,4 (23.4) million. 

  • The number of journeys on long-distance trains increased by 44.4% in July–September, to 3.8 (2.6) million journeys. 

  • The railway transport volumes of VR Transpoint decreased by -18.7% and amounted to 7.5 (9.3) million tonnes. 

  • Elisa Markula (M.Sc. Econ.) was appointed as the new CEO. She assumed her responsibilities on 30 August 2022. 

  • VR Group acquired the Swedish bus and rail operator Arriva Sverige. The transaction was closed on 1 July 2022. The company’s name has been changed to VR Sverige. 


Key figures 






Net sales, MEUR 






Operating profit (EBIT), MEUR 






% of net sales 






Comparable operating profit (EBIT), MEUR* 






% of net sales 






Net profit/loss for the period, MEUR 












Cash flow from operating activities, MEUR 






Investments, MEUR 












Capital invested at the end of  

the period, MEUR 






Return on capital employed  

(ROCE), % 






Comparable return on capital employed, % 












Interest-bearing net debt at the end of the period, MEUR 






Gearing, % 












Average number of personnel 






* VR Group presents comparable operating profit (EBIT) as an alternative performance measure. The aim of comparable operating profit (EBIT) is to improve comparability between reporting periods.  

The calculation formulas for the figures are disclosed in VR Group’s Annual Report for 2020. 

The figures are unaudited. 






The benchmarks in brackets refer to the corresponding time period in the previous year, unless otherwise stated.  

CEO Elisa Markula: 

“VR Group’s net sales and profit performance in the third quarter was better than in the first half of the year. Long-distance traffic developed favourably, but volumes in commuter traffic did not reach the pre-pandemic level. In freight traffic, domestic volumes grew, although total freight volume declined due to the discontinuation of Eastern traffic.  

The number of journeys in long-distance traffic rose to a good level, marking a return to the pre-pandemic level. This was mainly due to growth in leisure travel. In July, we achieved a new record-high in the number of journeys per month. At 1.4 million, the number of journeys was 46 per cent higher than in 2021 and 17 per cent higher than before the pandemic in 2019. The number of journeys in August–September was two per cent higher than the pre-pandemic level. 

The recovery of the number of journeys has been slower in VR’s commuter traffic. While the volume of commuter traffic grew by approximately 50 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter, it was still 13 per cent lower than before the pandemic. As is the case with long-distance traffic, leisure travel is now representing a larger proportion of commuter traffic than before. 

Freight traffic volumes were approximately 20 per cent lower than in the previous year due to the planned discontinuation of Eastern traffic. As previously announced, VR’s Eastern freight traffic will be discontinued completely by the end of this year at the latest. In domestic freight traffic, the demand for all transport services has grown significantly, which compensates partly volume losses of Eastern traffic. Growth has been accelerated particularly by the increased volumes of domestic roundwood transport. At 1.2 million cubic metres, the roundwood transport volume in August marked a new record. 

VR Group expanded its operations to Sweden by making an acquisition that was closed at the beginning of July. VR Sverige (formerly Arriva Sverige) is a bus and rail operator in Stockholm, eastern Götaland and Skåne. VR Sverige has about 3,400 employees and its net sales amount to approximately EUR 300 million. The integration of operations has begun as expected.”

Outlook for the current year 

VR Group expects that the comparable operating profit (EBIT) for the final quarter of 2022 will be close to last year’s level. 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and global political uncertainty have a significant impact on VR Group’s business and profitability. There is a risk that a prolonged war will undermine overall economic growth, increase energy prices and accelerate inflation, increase interest rates and make access to funding more difficult. There is also great uncertainty as to when and to what extent the global political situation will be reflected in freight transport and how rail travel will continue to recover after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Train travel has thus far recovered faster than expected after the COVID-19 pandemic eased. The number of journeys in long-distance traffic is expected to be close to the 2019 level. Maintaining high levels of passengers requires a return to business travel and continued strong leisure travel. The attractiveness of rail travel is also influenced by the development of electricity and fuel prices. The exceptionally high level of electricity prices is expected to have a negative impact on the profitability of passenger services during the remainder of the year. 

VR Transpoint’s transport volumes in the first three quarters of the year were adversely affected by the decrease in Eastern freight traffic. By the end of September, approximately 65% of Eastern freight traffic had been discontinued. Eastern traffic is expected to come to a complete end during the current year. Some of the volume losses in Eastern traffic are expected to be offset by an increase in domestic demand. In particular, the volume of roundwood transport has increased significantly, and the transport of raw materials along the western routes in general is increasing. 

Overall, the volume of freight traffic is expected to be less than last year. Domestic freight transport contracts include an index clause, according to which changes in energy prices are taken into account in delivery prices. As a result, changes in energy prices will not have a significant impact on the profitability of freight traffic. 

In the longer term, VR Group’s business is supported by megatrends in environmental awareness and urbanisation. At the societal level, the attitude towards rail and public transport is positive and both passenger and freight traffic customers increasingly aim to increase their use of rail traffic. VR Group also increases the share of rail traffic through its own actions and by meeting the expectations of its customers. 

VR-Group Plc 

Board of Directors


More information: 

VR Group Media Desk, tel. +358 (0)29 434 7123

Attachments: VR Group’s business review for July–September 2022 (pdf) 

About VR-Yhtymä Oyj

We are a responsible service company in the fields of travel, logistics and maintenance and a forerunner in creating the future of mobility in Finland and in the neighbouring markets of the Nordic countries. We take care of smooth daily travel and transport, with experience gained over 160 years. While keeping society moving, we are increasing the popularity of electronic rail and urban transport. In this way, we increase well-being and transport you towards a carbon-neutral tomorrow.  

Our company is owned by the State of Finland. In 2021, our net sales were EUR 838.3 million and we employed over 5,620 top professionals. On board our trains and buses, 83.9 million journeys were made, and we transported 42.7 million metric tonnes of goods. In addition, we expanded our operations to Sweden on 1 July 2022. Our subsidiary VR Sverige’s net sales are over EUR 300 million and the number of journeys made is about 110 million each year. At the same time, we welcomed 3,200 new colleagues. 

We are actively seeking growth and we aim for the top in all of our operations. The better we succeed, the more society around us benefits – we are getting there together for a better world. Further information: https://www.vrgroup.fi/en


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