Border Crossings: Finland - Russia
All rail routes between this pair of countries are 1520mm gauge.
Passenger traffic was discontinued from 28 March 2022. On 6 April 2022 the VR Group board decided to stop all freight traffic between Finland and Russia. It began the process of terminating its cross-border freight contracts, with traffic expected to cease completely by the end of 2022 at the latest. However, it is believed freight may still be carried for commodities which are not subject to an EU embargo.
(Kemijärvi -) Kelloselkä-raja VR - Alakurtti RŽD
This line, opened in 1941 as part of Finnish war reparations to Russia, may never have carried any through traffic. It was destroyed in 1944 but rebuilt as far as Kuolajärvi/Куолаярви, about 10 km beyond the Russian border. Traffic between Kuolajärvi and Alakurtti ceased in 1954 and the track has since been dismantled. Passenger traffic to Kelloselkä ceased in 1967 and the line has long been out of use east of there, although track remains in place towards the Russian border. In 2012 the last remaining traffic (timber) on the section of line between Isokylä (just east of Kemijärvi) and Kelloselkä ceased. RHK (Finnish equivalent of Network Rail) have now mothballed the entire line east of Isokylä.
(Kontiomäki -) Vartius VR - Kostomuksha RŽD
[D] Freight only. It is thought it is may have closed from 18 November 2023 by Finnish government order because of illegal immigration.
Most of the traffic comprises iron-ore pellets from a mine/processing plant at Kostomuksa (some 30 km inside Russia) to the steel works at Raahe and also the port of Kokkola for export. On the Russian side a new line 126 km long opened in 2001 from Ledmozero to Kotshkoma, considerably reducing the distance from Vartius to the Archangelsk area of Russia. It was hoped this would lead to a significant increase in traffic. However, owing to a lack of funds, signalling and telecommunication works on the line were never completed, severely restricting its capacity. The line from Vartius to Kontiomäki is now electrified, along with that from Oulu via Kontiomäki to Iisalmi. It was hoped to extend electrification all the way to Kotshkoma in the long term but this is now most unlikely.
Niirala VR - Vyartsilya RŽD
[D] Freight-only. The Finnish government ordered its closure to all modes of traffic from 18 November 2023 because of illegal immigration. Rail traffic by this time was low, averaging only one wagon a day. However, a freight bringing fertiliser from Russia did run on 5 December 2023.
This line opened in 1948 and carried VR domestic passenger trains to Niirala until 1987. It was used mainly to import raw timber to Finland. RŽD ran a trial international passenger train (possibly the first ever by this route) from Petrozavodsk in the Republic of Karelia to Joensuu on 28/29 December 2012. It was thought that further trains would operate if there is sufficient demand, which RZD expected would come from travel agencies wishing to run charter services. There was no sign of the introduction of regular timetabled passenger trains as this would have required the establishment of formal border and immigration control facilities.
Parikkala VR - Elisenvarra RŽD
Traffic ceased on the Finnish side in 1958. RŽD domestic passenger traffic on the Russian side lasted until 1990 and the track was lifted in 1991.
Imatrankoski VR - Svetogorsk RŽD
[D] Freight only. It is thought it may have closed from 18 November 2023 by Finnish government order because of illegal immigration.
Mainly used to import raw timber and wood products to Finland, amounting to 2.6 million tonnes in 2000, with about 6-8 trains per day. Under a co-operation agreement signed in Petrozavodsk on September 25 2012, RZD, VR and local authorities in both countries were going to examine other potential passenger routes, including St Petersburg – Imatra, but this did not lead to anything.
(Kouvola -) Vainikkala VR - Luzhaika RŽD (- Sankt Peterburg)
[E*] Now freight-only and the only border crossing still open to traffic. RŽD dual-system electric locos (3kV dc/25kV 50Hz) work into Finland on freight trains. In 2009 7.7 million tonnes of freight, mainly wood, oil, gas and fertiliser crossed the border into Finland. Of this, 2.5 m tonnes of freight went directly to and from Finnish seaports for export and import. 550,000 tonnes passed the other way, mainly construction materials, farm machinery and consumer goods.
Allegro high-speed units were introduced at the December 2010 timetable change on the 2 daytime passenger services between Helsinki and St Petersburg, cutting the journey time from six hours to three and a half. All border and customs inspections took place on board these trains in both countries. This service was discontinued from 28 March 2022 as part of the sanctions against Russia. The Tolstoi overnight train between Helsinki and Moskva was suspended by RZD on an unknown date (possibly 15 March 2020) as a result of the Covid pandemic.