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March 28, 2022

VR Group pauses rail services to Russia amid Ukraine invasion

The Finnish rail operator has halted the Allegro train service to St Petersburg.

Understand the impact of the Ukraine conflict from a cross-sector perspective with the GlobalData Executive Briefing: Ukraine Conflict

Finland’s national rail operator VR Group has suspended services between Helsinki, Finland, and St Petersburg, Russia, in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The company has halted the Allegro train service to St Petersburg and said that the train service will not be available to the passengers until further notice.

VR Group passenger services senior vice-president Topi Simola said: “Thus far, we have been continuing the Allegro train services according to the instructions by the relevant authorities and, hence, making sure that we can provide a safe passage to the Finnish citizens.

“During these weeks, the people, who have wanted to depart from Russia, have had adequate time to leave. Now, due to the sanctions, we will discontinue the service for now.”

VR Transpoint also announced that it has discontinued freight wagon traffic from Russia due to sanctions placed on the country.

The company said that the return of wagons from Finland to Russia will continue for the time being.

VR Transpoint senior vice president Martti Koskinen said: “The continuation of freight traffic between Russia and Finland is no longer possible because of the sanctions imposed on Russian Railways (RZD).

“VR Group is obliged to comply with the sanctions imposed by Western countries.”

Reuters reported that the border between the two countries will continue to be opened for crossings by private car.

Russia previously suspended its passenger train routes to the European Union (EU) in 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions.

This included the Leo Tolstoy, a Russian train that runs between Moscow and Helsinki via St Petersburg.

Last week, VR Group agreed to acquire Arriva Sverige, the Swedish branch of passenger transport firm Arriva.

Arriva Sverige is said to be Sweden’s third-largest train operator, serving more than 170 million passengers a year.

The company oversees urban transport in Stockholm, as well as regional transport in Sweden’s southern and south-eastern regions.

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