Trains in Finland

Finland has a fine network of railway tracks, connecting widely scattered towns. These lines are crossed by many fine steel bridges.

Long distance trains are comfortable and punctual. Buses are modern with air conditioning, reclining seats and bathrooms. Most offer free power outlets and WiFi. In Helsinki a combined ticket covers buses, metro and the suburban rail network.


As in most European countries, Finland’s railways are principally of inland significance. Exceptions are through trains linking Helsinki to Kuopio and Turku, which connect to Tampere and beyond.

We boarded IC71, one of the hundreds of long-distance trains operated daily by state operator VR. The train carries two classes of passengers, the second-class coaches resembling third-class Pullmans on Great Britain’s main line. Both cars have centre corridors and wide gangways, seating four passengers on each side, with two seats facing each other in the middle of each row.

After Riihimaki, the line veers round to a junction station just before Kajaani. From here, a long connecting line skirts the southern shore of Lake Paijanne to reach Viipuri. Then the route veers south and east to Kouvola, where the line runs alongside a section of the vast Russian frontier. There the track gauge changes from standard 1435 mm to 1524 mm on a bridge over the border.


All train services within the Helsinki suburban area require tickets to be purchased (or held) before boarding. Tickets can be bought from station machines (only cash) or on board trains from onboard staff.

Finland’s railways, which are operated by VR, are modern and comfortable. Passenger trains feature air conditioning, reclining seats, bathrooms and free power outlets.

At the end of track 13 at Helsinki Central Station a sleek Allegro train looks smart in morning sunshine, though it’s no longer running to St Petersburg since the service was axed in protest at Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in March 2022. Luckily the accident was a one-off, with the train derailing onto an empty siding rather than the main, historic station buildings.

A detailed map of the whole Finnish rail system is available in GT Tiekartasto Suomi-Finland (railway atlas for Finland, 1:200,000 north of Oulo). Jussi Makinen’s Jarnvagshistorisk generalkarta over Finland (historical railway atlas) is also worth a look.


Train travel in Finland is a tranquil experience – a chance to reflect as endless pine forests and tidy villages of red and white weatherboard houses roll by the window. Long distance buses and trains are modern and comfortable, with air conditioning, reclining seats and bathrooms. Many offer free power and WiFi. Ticket prices vary widely; check online for specials (look for words like Tarjous, Tarkset, Saasto or Erikoishinta) and book early.

Train journeys are generally cheaper than flights, even during peak periods. The price comparison website Yle ran the numbers and found that a one-way trip from Helsinki to Vaasa, on a route that calls at all major stations, cost 196 euros by train and 144 euros by plane.

Most passenger trains are run by the state-owned VR, with the network radiating from Helsinki. Most of the long-distance routes are InterCity trains, with two-story carriages, while short routes around Helsinki use Pendolinos — modern tilting trains that drive at 160 to 200 km/h.


The railway network is extensive in Finland, connecting most major cities and towns. Commuter services radiate from Helsinki central, with additional lines from the north such as those to Turku, Oulu and Rovaniemi. Intercity trains are fast, comfortable and punctual. They have free power sockets, luggage racks and WLAN access. They are also well-maintained and regularly undergo refurbishment.

A new high speed line between Helsinki and Kerava opened in December 2010, halving the journey time to under six hours. The reintroduction of passenger services on the line from Boden to Haparanda on the border with Sweden was completed in 2015, as was the electrification of the main lines from Seinojaki to Oulu and from Vartius to Kostomuksha.

Ticket purchases can be made from vending machines at stations, from train conductors on rural lines and on long distance trains from main terminals. In some cases, tickets can be purchased on board, though this is only possible with regional trains and trains that do not carry guards. A detailed map of current and historical rail lines is available in GT Tiekartasto Suomi-Finland, obtainable from bookshops or the Railway Museum.

Related Posts