Border Crossings: Finland - Russia

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All rail routes between this pair of countries are 1520mm gauge.

(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 pending a decision to be made in conjunction with Russian and Swedish authorities on a possible reopening as part of a through route to cater for the predicted vast increase in container traffic from China to America’s west coast via train through Russia, Finland and Sweden to Norway for transferring to ships.

(Kontiomäki -) Vartius VR - Kostomuksha RŽD

[D] Freight only. 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 is hoped to extend electrification all the way to Kotshkoma in the long term.

Niirala VR - Vyartsilya RŽD

[D] This freight-only line opened in 1948 and carried VR domestic passenger trains to Niirala until 1987. Mainly used to import raw timber to Finland: this amounted to 2.5 million tonnes last year. 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 has been no sign of the introduction of regular timetabled passenger trains as this would require 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 - about 6-8 trains per day. Mainly used to import raw timber and wood products to Finland, which amounted to 2.6 million tonnes in 2000. 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. However, there has been no sign of any such trains.

(Kouvola -) Vainikkala VR - Luzhaika RŽD (- Sankt Peterburg)

[E*] Allegro high-speed units were introduced at the December 2010 timetable change on the 2 daytime services between Helsinki and St Petersburg, cutting the journey time from six hours to three and a half. There are 4 services each way as at October 2016. All border and customs inspections take place on board these trains in both countries. RŽD dual-system electric locos (3kV dc/25kV 50Hz) work into Finland on freight trains and the overnight service to and from Moscow.

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.

See also