The Passenger Line in Finland

For a country less than a twelfth of the size of thickly populated Belgium, Finland has a remarkable railway system. The state-owned network now covers a lot of ground.

The main Helsinki Central station offers 19 tracks in a dead-end configuration, serving commuter and intercity services. Its track 13 is where the accident occurred.


Long distance bus and train services are efficient, comfortable and punctual throughout Finland. Most offer air conditioning, reclining seats and bathrooms. Some include power outlets and Wi-Fi. Long-distance buses are also often equipped with a luggage rack.

Passenger trains in Finland are usually double-decked, but a number of narrower single-deckers operate on some lines, including the main line between Helsinki and Viipuri. The country is also dotted with private railways of every size.

The IC71 was heading for Helsinki main station when the onboard system automatically triggered an emergency stop at 7:46am, just past Pasila, two stations up from the city centre. By 8:24am the conductor and steward saw that track 13 was speeding towards the outer part of the station complex – this area features less people and stronger barriers than the main platforms. Moreover, derailing there would not endanger the historic central hall. The cable wasn’t properly plugged in between the restaurant car and the following single-level intercity-car.


The passenger line is owned and operated by the state monopoly VR. The company has a political organisation and seems to be more interested in politics than running a rail network. As a result plans for commuter routes have been stalled by VR and it also has the special permission to not outsource its passenger services to private operators.

Passenger coaches are centre-corridor and of the standard European type, with two classes of passengers. The second class seats four people in a row, either side of a central gangway, and are spacious and comfortable with high domed or clerestory roofs.

The conductor is based in the leading car (the eighth) and communicates with the driver via radio. The company’s website provides timetable PDFs of long distance and regional services, although you must select a language to view them. The link “Juna-aikataulut” gives a combined PDF for all long distance services, using table numbers familiar to EGTRE, and an individual PDF for each of the regional routes.


Unlike most European railways, Finland’s passenger trains are operated by a single company, VR. This monopoly has its benefits, but it also leads to higher prices than flying between cities. A ticket for a commuter train costs about 49 euros. Those traveling for a longer trip should purchase a rail pass before the trip.

Within the Helsinki suburban area, tickets must be purchased before boarding trains from station machines or conductors. Outside this area, passengers can buy tickets on board long-distance trains and regional trains. They can also use the railbus ticket machines on rural lines. However, these machines accept only payment cards.

Finland’s railway network includes hundreds of stations. Whether you’re planning to visit a remote national park or just take in the city sights, a train ride is an excellent way to experience the country’s stunning natural landscape. The pristine wilderness gives way to breathtaking towns and captivating cities, such as Helsinki. It’s a great place to enjoy the Northern Lights and watch nature come alive before your eyes.


Long-distance bus services are generally very reliable and fast. Several companies serve Finland, with prices for intra-Finland routes similar to those of Onnibus and international routes often cheaper than flying (though flight times are much longer). Buses are comfortable, clean and modern, with air conditioning and reclining seats. Most offer free power and Wi-Fi.

The main passenger train network is operated by state-owned VR, which offers a wide range of connections to major towns and cities. The rail system is extensive, running on a broad 1,524 mm (5 ft 8 1/2-in) track gauge.

Timetable PDFs are available via the Juna website for long distance and regional services. Searching for a particular journey allows access to detailed schedules using long-established table numbers or a diagrammatic map, with booking links provided. The line between Helsinki and Turku is closed for engineering work between Kupittaa and Parkano; overnight trains from/to northern Finland use an avoiding curve to/from Haapamaki instead, reversing in Turku station.

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