Russia tests new cross-border link to Finland
Russian Railways has tested the new cross-border route to neighbouring Finland. It connects Saint Petersburg and Imatra, a Finnish city close to the border with Russia. The test journey was performed by the Lastochka train, widely used by Russian Railways for commuter and intercity lines inside the country.
After departing from Saint Petersburg, Lastochka arrived at Imatra in 3 hours running the distance of 198 kilometres. The trial ride took place on 28 September with the participation of Russian and Finnish experts travelling onboard. During the journey, they examined the opportunities for the regular service between Saint Petersburg and Imatra. It is reported that Russian Railways intends to launch it in 2024 at the earliest. For the regular cross-border connection, some improvements of the rail infrastructure including electrification of the Svetogorsk – Kamenogorsk section should be carried out.
If the regular cross-border trains run on the Saint Petersburg – Imatra line, this route will become the second rail connection between Russia and Finland. The first one is served by the Allegro high-speed trains since December 2010. Four Allegro seven-car vehicles were manufactured by Alstom on the basis of Pendolino platform. They run between Saint Petersburg and Helsinki, the capital of Finland, at a maximum speed of 220 kilometres per hour. Their route is going via Vyborg, Kouvola, Lahti. 3 hours 27 minutes are required for the Allegro trainsets to deliver passengers from one terminus to another while the conventional trains do it for 7 hours 29 minutes. To serve the route, Russian Railways and VR Group established a joint venture Karelian Trains. Currently, there are four daily connections between Saint Petersburg and Helsinki.