St Petersburg-Helsinki train only direct link to Russia

The EU, together with Finnish authorities, have asked VR, a government-owned railway company in Finland, to keep the line open to make sure those willing and able to leave Russia can do so. Finland and Russia own the Allegro train connection with equal 50% shares. [Shutterstock/Liz Kcer]

As the EU has banned Russian flights from its airspace, the three and a half-hour train journey between St Petersburg and Helsinki is now the only direct passenger link from Russia to the bloc.

The EU, together with Finnish authorities, have asked VR, a government-owned railway company in Finland, to keep the line open to make sure those willing and able to leave Russia can do so. Finland and Russia own the Allegro train connection with equal 50% shares.

Because of the pandemic, only Finnish and Russian citizens have been allowed to travel on the connection. But, according to the Finnish railway company, discussions are taking place with the Russian railway operator RZD to open the system to all EU and third-country nationals.

There are said to be tens of thousands of EU citizens in Russia.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, however, Allegro currently runs twice a day with a half passenger capacity of 327, and the train to Helsinki has been sold out for the past few days.

However, if the Russian operator agrees to ease restrictions, the passenger capacity could increase, hinting VR’s Director of Passenger Traffic Topi Simola in an interview with broadcaster YLE.

In Finland, long-distance and commuter trains have been free of charge for Ukrainian citizens since Wednesday (2 March).

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