Trains are an essential part of Finland’s public transport system and offer a comfortable, convenient way to travel long distances. The state-owned VR Group operates the main lines and many local services.
The ongoing Helsinki–Riihimaki project aims to increase capacity and reduce the line’s vulnerability to disruptions. It has already included the construction of an additional western track at Pasila.
The national railway company, VR (VR Ltd-VR Oy), operates a broad network that radiates from Helsinki. Its intercity trains offer a comfortable, modern ride and various onboard facilities such as free WiFi. There’s also plenty of space for luggage.
On longer routes, some IC trains carry dining cars serving snacks and drinks. The Pendolino high-speed tilting train offers the fastest service.
If you’d like to explore Finland’s rural landscape, consider taking a local train. You’ll be treated to views of glinting lakes and clusters of wooden cottages clad in classic red and white. Many cities and towns have their own websites with timetables and other public transport information. The Reittiopas – Journey Planner is particularly useful; it allows you to input addresses and either departure or arrival times, and provides options for bus or rail connections. It’s available for 21 Finnish municipalities.
Whether you take the high-speed Pendolino trip between Helsinki and most other major cities or an InterCity train, Finland’s trains are renowned for punctuality and accessibility. They are also known for having on-board playrooms, licensed dining cars and overnight cabins where you can sleep in airplane-style seats or berths (at an extra cost).
The main street in Tampere center is Hameenkatu, with the City Library and Church of Alexander at one end, and the railway station and Hameenpuisto park at the other. An extensive bus network runs around the city centre.
A single ticket covers trips by bus, tram and train within the city center area. Tickets can be purchased from a machine or directly from the driver. The Matkahuolto app is able to first plan your route and then sell you the correct ticket for it. Full-time students, pensioners receiving the national pension and people with limited mobility can get discounted tickets. Children under 7 travel free of charge.
Commuter trains along the route run every X minutes during a weekday. Their timetables are super easy to understand, because the trains are only named with one letter and it’s always written next to the running time on a schedule (eg: “U”: Helsinki – Kirkkonummi).
They are slower than Pendolino high-speed trains or InterCity trains, which can reach speeds of up to 220 km/h. They also call at almost every station.
The commuter train fleet is being replaced by new EMUs, which are 50% more energy-efficient than the CAF/Alstom Sm4 trains. The new trains are also more comfortable and meet modern accessibility standards. The first new EMUs will enter service in 2026 on the routes of R, T and Z. They will replace the Valmet Sm2 trains which were built between 1975 and 1981. The new trains will also be used on the commuter lines of Helsinki, Tampere and Lahti. The trains will be powered by hydrogen produced from renewable sources.
In Finland train travel is popular, and with good reason. The country’s extensive rail network offers a wide selection of routes and trains, allowing travellers to explore the beauty of the country at a relaxed pace.
Long-distance routes are operated by InterCity trains that have modern two-story carriages. Shorter routes are run by commuter trains. These trains are less spacious but still comfortable with ample leg room and amenities like WiFi on board.
The government plans to build a high-speed line from Helsinki to Turku. The project is managed by the Suomirata project company, which was established in 2020. However, the project is currently on hold as local residents in the Lukkarinmaki area of Salo are unenthusiastic about the new route as it would run through their neighbourhood and force them to demolish their homes. Despite the setbacks, the line remains a priority of the government, and construction is expected to begin in 2022. Once completed, the line could cut travel time to just one hour.