Finland and Russia aim for cross-border railway boom

Fast rail connection between Helsinki and St. Petersburg is expected to boost both cargo and passenger traffic.

The high-speed Allegro train services will start between Helsinki and St. Petersburg on 12 December, cutting the travel time to about three and a half hours thanks to modern trains, faster border formalities and track upgrades. Travel time is also reduced by the fact that locomotives do not have to be changed at the border.

The Allegro is a joint venture by the Finnish state railway company VR and its Russian counterpart RZD. Their objective is to increase the transport of cars and cargo containers by 50% over the next few months. The passenger target for the new connection has now been set at 250,000. The companies plan to triple the passenger volume on Helsinki-St. Petersburg line within ten years of the start of the Allegro service,

According to Russian Railways Vice-President Vadim Morozov, the growth of trade relations between Russia and Finland in 2010 has been reflected in the volumes of freight, which has increased by 14% in the first 10 months of this year.

After Helsinki, the Allegro stops at Pasila, Tikkurila, Lahti, Kouvola and Vainikkala before the border and at Vyborg and St. Petersburg in Russia. Initially there will be two daily return services with plans to increase this to four by summer 2011.

Source: VR and RZD