When logistics matter

Successful eastern transport operations are the result of good team work


Our new eastern transport operations team, led by Director of Sales Antti Pursiainen, has the necessary expertise and connections both in Finland and Russia to ensure smooth transport.

Over the past years, VR Transpoint’s Eastern Traffic has implemented various impressive logistics solutions.

Container transport on the Trans-Siberian Railway has recommenced after a number of years. Containers are now transported in both directions between Asia and Finland. A particular strength of the Finnish route is the frequent forest industry exports into Asia.

Transit traffic is also increasing. Significant amounts of coal transported from Russia using railway transport will be funneled through the Tahkoluoto Port in Pori this year.

What both of these examples have in common is that the commencement of the actual transport operations was preceded by a long preparatory phase.

“We have tried to get contracts for coal transport in Finland for a number of years. It was a lot of work, but we now have a stable and growing flow of transport,” says Eastern Traffic Head of Sales Svetlana Lehmus.

A new team to bring together sales and transport management

Lehmus works as a Sales Manager in VR Transpoint’s new eastern transport operations team, which is responsible for sales and for maintaining customer and stakeholder relationships both in Russia and in Finland.

The new team is led by Antti Pursiainen, who was assigned Director of Eastern Traffic on 7 August. He has previously worked as Sales Manager in VR Transpoint’s eastern transport operations.

“Import, export and transit traffic operations are running very smoothly at the moment and transport volumes are increasing.”

Pursiainen has strong faith in there being successes in the future, too.

“Import, export and transit traffic operations are running very smoothly at the moment and transport volumes are increasing.”

A team member and Svetlana Lehmus’ colleague, Sales Manager Lea Viinamäki has also worked as an office manager at VR Group’s Moscow office.

“We can offer and implement large-scale solutions that, in addition to rail transport, may include road transport, terminal services, forwarding and even sea freight,” Viinamäki says.

The other two team members are Services Manager Ari-Pekka Tynys and Conditions of Carriage Manager Sirkka Ahokas.

Tynys describes himself and a supporting beam spanning across sales and service production:

“I oversee transport across borders and manage communications with RZD. Over the years, I have collected a considerable network of contacts. Discussions across borders often make things smoother in doing business with Russian transport operators.”

Sirkka Ahokas specialises in international transport contracts, conditions of carriage and the regulations agreed upon together with the Russian operators.

“Ari-Pekka is good with practical matters, I’m good with contracts. We often put our heads together to think about how a contract should be applied to a certain transport instance.”

Best routes are determined for customers

Team leader Pursiainen is pleased that all members of the Eastern Traffic team speak fluent Russian, and that each of them has their own area of specialisation and years of experience in eastern transport operations.

“Eastern traffic is a complex environment that cannot be adapted to in a short period of time. Good language skills are helpful, and challenging situations are overcome together with humour and a positive attitude,” Pursiainen says.

Lea Viinamäki feels it is important to have people with different skill sets in the team.

“We get all kinds of questions and inquiries from our customers. For example, Russian customers often ask about the operation of terminals and about what types of cargo they can handle. The questions of Finnish customers often relate to the operation of the Russian railway network. We have the right contacts to get the answers from. Our sales assistants and customer service centres also respond to customer inquiries.”

“Customers benefit from the team’s expertise in many ways,” Svetlana Lehmus says.

“If a customer has a new transport need, we can respond very quickly and propose a suitable service package. Russian customers often ask that we propose an optimally efficient transport route. We must have a good network of contacts and good cooperation with ports and port operators.”

At times, international agreements must be referred to in order to ensure the feasibility of a transport service.

“Import, export and transit traffic operations are running very smoothly at the moment and transport volumes are increasing.”

“We are well aware of the content of national agreements and of how these agreements are applied. Customers will be notified with no delay if a transport service they have requested cannot be implemented,” Sirkka Ahokas says.

VR Transpoint is a trusted operator in Russia
VR Transpoint has decades of experience in cooperation with Russian railway operators. This creates trust upon which great customer relationships can be built.

“Our customers are used to relying on us to help them out. As part of an organisation such as this one, it is easy to earn that trust,” Lea Viinamäki says.

Through its years of experience, the VR Transpoint eastern transport operations team has accumulated considerable skills and know-how.

“The most important thing is to understand both Russian and Finnish customers, and to have knowledge of how the railway sector operates both here and across the border. Good personal relationships also continue to be highly valued in Russia. Good Russian language skill also play a key role. Building trust is very different if you can speak Russian,” Svetlana Lehmus says.