Rail freight Finland-Russia resumes, UK sanctions don’t apply after all

25.09.18, VR Transpoint, Lokaatio: Metsä Fibre / Äänekoski, Tilaaja: Virva Torvinen / VR-Yhtymä Oy, Valokuvaaja: Juho Kuva

Three days after suspending traffic between Finland and Russia, VR Transpoint will resume services effective Wednesday, 30 March. The decision to restart rail freight operations to and from Russia follows on consultation with the UK authorities clarifying that sanctions do not apply to VR. Passenger traffic will remain suspended, the last trains to and from Russia ran on Sunday 27 March.

The decision to suspend rail freight traffic with Russia was taken in the first place due to the sanctions imposed by the United Kingdom on 24 March. This included an asset freeze and an obligation to refrain from any transaction with Russian Railways, and these sanctions seemed to be the end of any rail connection with Russia.

Traffic continues, but products could be excluded

VR Group, the government-owned railway company of Finland, consultated with UK authorities and banks even after the decision to suspend traffic. It became apparent that its operations did not need to freeze since the agreements signed with Russian parties were not subject to the sanctions after all.

“Since last week’s decision, we have continued discussions with the UK authorities and banks about the imposition of sanctions on our company. According to the British authorities and banks clarification, the sanctions do not apply to our operations”, explained the company in a statement.

However, the sanctions lists include specific legal entities and people who, for instance, own particular products. As a result, the VR Group will most probably need to abstain from transporting certain products. “Sanctions are often imposed on people and thus on consignors or owners of goods, and we will not continue to transport them under the sanctions”, concluded the company.

This article first appeared on sister publication Railfreight.com

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is an editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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