night train Finland VR

VR chooses Škoda Transtech for new night trains

visualisation of new Škoda -built night train for VR VR Group / Škoda

Finnish rail operator VR Group has decided to procure its new night train fleet at Škoda Transtech. A total of nine sleeper coaches, eight car-carrier coaches as well as spare parts, special tools, training and documentation are part of the procurement. Škoda Transtech is majority-owned by Czech manufacturer Škoda Transportation.

VR operates night trains from Helsinki to the northern parts of the country, as well as from Turku in the south to Rovaniemi, Kemi and Kolari in northern Lapland all year round. The new cars will be introduced on the current routes by the end of 2025. The total value of the procurement is approximately 50 million euros. The procurement also includes options to purchase 30 more sleeper coaches and 30 additional car-carrier coaches. The decision may be appealed within an appeal period of fourteen days, and the contract can be concluded after the end of this period.

visualisation of new  Škoda-built night train cabin
Visualisation of new Škoda-built night train cabin, image: VR Group / Škoda

VR’s current night trains

VR’s night trains currently use both newer and older rolling stock. The total fleet of night trains consists of 80 sleeping cars, of which 50 are newer double-decker and 30 single-decker ‘blue wagons’. The newer double-decker night train fleet is in use all year round on the Rovaniemi, Kemijärvi and Kolarin routes. These trains were also built by Škoda Transtech’s, and the first started operating in February 2006.

VR sleeper train
A sleeping cabin of the current VR sleeper train, also built by Škoda Transtech

The older so-called blue night train fleet is mainly used during peak seasons such as Christmas, New Year, ski holidays and Easter. In addition, there are 33 car-carrier wagons in use on the night trains, of which 15 are newer and the remaining 18 older blue carriages. In addition, the night train lineups include restaurant and day cars. VR is also converting 10 double-decker day coaches into baggage coaches for night trains during the last and this year. The possible replacement of the older ‘blue carriages’ has been taken into account in the additional procurement options.

VR night train with older ‘blue wagons’, image: Fabien Perissinotto via Wikimedia

“We want to develop night train travel and increase the popularity of environmentally friendly train travel, which is particularly suitable for long journeys. Our aim is to increase the share of train traffic to 10 per cent of all traffic by 2030. Modern rolling stock is playing a key role in enabling this development” said Topi Simola, VR’s Senior Vice President Passenger Services earlier about the launch of the procurement.

“Domestic travel is increasing and, in particular, Lapland with its diverse range of destinations is proving interesting. We have added a large number of departures to the north in recent years and the new equipment will allow us to further develop our services. Of course, the procurement of modern night train rolling stock will also improve passenger comfort”, said Simola.

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Author: Esther Geerts

Former Editor

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