|VR Group Ltd
|VR Cargo, VR Track
VR Group Ltd is the main railway company of Finland.
VR's most important function is the operation of freight and passenger rail services. Maintenance and construction of the railway network itself is the responsibility of the Finnish rail administration body RHK.
VR is state-owned, and was formerly known as Valtionrautatiet.
Companies in the VR group also provide road freight and bus services, carry out catering activities and real estate management, and provide data, technological, and telecommunications services for the transport and logistics sectors. The group owns a bus company Pohjolan Liikenne and a road freight haulage company Transpoint.
Finnish trains are spacious, comfortable and clean. The scenery among the lines is beautiful, especially in Eastern Finland where there are very many lakes. Because in most parts of Finland density of population is low, Finland is not very well suited for railways. Commuter services are rare outside Helsinki area, but there are express train connections between most of the cities. As in France, most trains are coming or going to the capital city Helsinki. In addition there are also good ExpressBus and aeroplane connections, both of which are generally more expensive than trains. Buses are sometimes faster and/or cheaper than trains (e.g. Helsinki-Pori).
The only international rail services from Finland are to Russia. There are two trains a day to St Petersburg, called Sibelius and Repin, and one overnight train to Moscow via St Petersburg called Tolstoi.
Altogether the group of companies includes 21 companies employing a total of about 14,400 employees. The President and CEO of the VR group of companies is Henri Kuitunen.
VR runs commuter traffic in Helsinki Metropolitan Area.
- VR Cargo - Railway freight
- VR Track Ltd - Railway engineering (track design, construction and maintenance). The company´s principal client is the Finnish Rail Administration (RHK),
Pendolino is the high speed train system operated by VR. It is one of the premier high-speed trains of Europe. The Pendolino has an average speed of 160-200 km/h, and its highest speed record was 248 km/h. The reason why the Pendolino was chosen in the beginning of 1990s is due to the fact that the country has curved railways and this is the cheapest method to build a high speed train, which runs on existing network. A tilting train provided the advantages of high speed and comfort for the passengers, as tilting trains are made for curved railways.
Unlike the TGV, Thalys and other European high-speed trains, the Pendolino, due to its tilting mechanism, does not run on specialised high-speed lines - it runs on existing lines. This has both beneficial and negative consequences. Firstly, the trains cannot run to as high a speed as the TGV, for example, due to the lines. However, the Pendolino can also run alongside 'standard' trains, allowing for greater use of the railway. Also, high-speed lines cost a lot more for building, which makes them uneconomical when Finland has low population and long distances. Despite its relatively low speeds for a high-speed network, the Pendolino has been successful due to the fact that it connects many Finnish cities and towns, similar to the TGV, which spans a large number of major cities in France.
The Pendolino is a premium facility train. There are audio sockets for radio and music channels, as well as headphones. In some seats, there are also electricity sockets for laptop and mobile phones. There is a bistro on board that serves snack bar-style dishes. In Business Plus Class (1st class), there is personal service and a complimentary meal, similar to aeroplane service.
The Pendolino network radiates out from Helsinki. The following other destinations are served: