Rail transport in Finland


Rail transport in Finland

The Finnish railway network consists of a total of 5,865 km of railways built with 1524 mm gauge. Passenger trains are operated by the state-owned VR Group. They serve all the major cities and many rural areas, though railway connections are available to fewer places than bus connections. Most passenger train services originate or terminate at Helsinki Central railway station, and a large proportion of the passenger rail network radiates out of Helsinki. VR also operates freight services. Maintenance and construction of the railway network itself is the responsibility of the Finnish Rail Administration (Ratahallintokeskus - RHK).

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).

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.

Railways

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

Railway links to adjacent countries

* Sweden - break of gauge - 1524mm/1435mm; change of voltage 25 kV AC/15 kV AC
* Russia - small break of gauge 1524mm/1520mm (through running possible).
* Norway - none.

ee also

* Transport in Finland


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