Finnish railway network
In Finland, the track gauge of the railway network differs from the gauge more commonly used in Europe. In Finland, the track gauge is 1,524 mm, while in most European countries it is 1,435 mm.
One of the biggest challenges in rail transport is the repair backlog of the railway network, which has grown to approximately EUR 1.5 billion. The poor condition of the railway network weakens the punctuality and operational reliability of train traffic, which affects both passengers and companies that need to transport goods.
The single-track railway network is very disruption-prone in terms of traffic and creates bottlenecks for the growth of rail transport and increased competition. It also constitutes a constraint for freight traffic.
VR considers it important that the repair backlog is systematically corrected and the level of basic rail maintenance is kept stable and at a sufficient level to increase the operational reliability of the railway network.
Condition of the railway network affects punctuality
The punctuality of train traffic is a very important issue for us in order to ensure a great customer experience and efficient flow of traffic. The punctuality of long-distance traffic is particularly impaired by malfunctions in the rail infrastructure. More than 50% of train delays are caused by the poor condition or malfunctions of the railway network.
In addition, temporary speed limits issued due to the poor condition of the track slow down travel times and significantly increase the energy consumption of train traffic. The maximum speed of the rolling stock (220 km/h) can only be utilised on a small section of the railway network.
Track projects in the coming years
Railway projects expedited by the Finnish Government:
- Developing the main line between Helsinki and Riihimäki
- Tampere passenger railway yard project
- Planning the electrification of the Tornio-Kolari section
- Planning the double track of the Liminka-Oulu section
- Planning phase 2 of the Luumäki-Imatra section
- Development plan for the Coastal Railway between Kauklahti and Karjaa
State investments in the railway network
The aim of the government's transport policy is to implement a transport investment programme of about EUR 3 billion, of which EUR 1.4 billion is to be directed towards new rail projects and the improvement of the existing railway network.
Adequate and appropriately targeted infrastructure investments and the reduction of the maintenance backlog are the most important prerequisites for the growth of rail traffic, increased competition and the achievement of the emission reduction targets for the transport sector.
Investments in railways can improve the flow and punctuality of passenger train services, speed up travel times, increase the efficiency of transport for logistics customers and promote the clean transition by increasing electrification, which directly reduces the emissions of our logistics customers.
In particular, the development of the busiest main line in Finland is necessary for the efficiency and development of both passenger service and freight traffic. Lentorata ('Flight track'), in other words, the new double-track connection between Pasila, Helsinki Airport and Kerava, must be executed quickly as it will increase the track capacity and speed up the journey to the airport. The key railway sections of the main network and the TEN-T core network must have two or four tracks.
Railway projects for freight traffic should be promoted in order to benefit business investments, transport to ports and to the west via the north and to eliminate traffic bottlenecks in domestic roundwood transport after the end of Russian roundwood imports.
Improving the network connectivity of trains
Improving the network connectivity of trains has become an increasingly important issue as the use of internet increases among commuters and other passengers. We provide a WLAN network on trains, and our current plan to upgrade our hardware will provide a train WiFi that will be up to five times faster. The new, faster internet connection will become available on all trains by the summer of 2024. Investment by telecom operators in track-side network infrastructure is also necessary in order to improve the network connectivity of trains.