General information about rail transport

The railway system consists of track infrastructure and rolling stock, and its operation. Because of this, the infrastructure makes a highly significant contribution to the construction of the system and its overall characteristics.


Characteristic features of the Finnish network with respect to other European rail networks include the wide track width (1524 mm), large proportion of single-track rail lines on the rail network (over 90%) and combined use of almost all tracks for both passenger and freight services. 

The distance between operating points (rail yards and stations), number of sidings and their permitted train lengths all determine the capacity of the track sections, because on a single-track rail network the operating points are used for oncoming trains to pass and trains travelling in the same direction at different speeds to overtake. The lengths of the tracks in the rail yards as well as their number and ability to switch from one to another form a track model which, in combination with the safety devices used, determines the functionality of a rail yard as well as its cost effectiveness.

Rolling stock

VR Group's locomotives are jointly used for passenger and freight transportation. In Finland, there are two types of heavy electric locomotives and three diesel locomotive types, which are used in non-electrified sections of track and railway yard shunting.

VR Transpoint has thousands of domestic rail freight wagons in use. In addition, there are continuously about three to four thousand Russian carriages on the Finnish rail network. Finnish carriages are not deployed on the Russian side.

Competitive rail system

A competitive rail system is typically most effective when bulk shipments are regularly transported using the longest possible block trains. To make the transport chain efficient, intermediate handling is minimised and consignment sizes are fitted as closely as possible to the maximum the locomotive class can pull. 

Rail transport

Freight trains in Finland are divided into three separate classes depending on the transport system function. The various types of trains serve a diverse range of product flows.

Customer block trains transport one customer's products from origin to destination, without any intermediate processing. They are driven on routes which allow sufficiently large, even flows as regularly as possible. The aim is to build the simplest possible operating model for the customer block trains to circulate efficiently.

The terminal to terminal block transport system consists of terminal to terminal block trains as well as distribution and feeder trains. The system is used for smaller batches to be transported in wagon groups within a block train. In the terminal to terminal block transport chain, wagon groups are assembled from local trains in marshalling yards and are transported from one yard to another by block trains. Small wagon group sizes require more intermediate handling than for single block trains, due to the re-grouping of the wagons. The system aims for overnight transportation.

Raw timber trains form their own nationwide system for the transport of forest industry raw material. One raw timber train is assembled from a maximum of two source area loading points to a central station and from there run directly to the destination station without any intermediate handling.