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State railway VR safe from inter-city competition until 2025

Finnish state rail services provider VR has been granted a continuation of exclusive rights for inter-city passenger rail services by the Ministry of Transport and Communications. The Ministry said Wednesday that European Union-wide rules governing the provision of such services have not yet been finalised.

VR:n Pendolino juna kesämaisemassa.
The deal with the Ministry of Transport and Communications guarantees VR exclusive rights to inter-city passenger rail services until 2025. Image: Soile Laaksonen / VR Group

The Ministry of Transport and Communications said Wednesday that it had arrived at the settlement following discussions with state railway VR.

In practice the agreement means that VR will maintain exclusive rights to provide long distance passenger rail services until the end of 2024.

The agreement includes an option which allows the parties to continue the arrangement for another five years, if VR plans significant investments in long-distance rail services during the term of the new agreement.

The Ministry said that there is no basis for opening up the inter-city rail market to competition at the end of 2019, since no EU-wide rules for competition have yet been laid out. Additionally, it noted that there is currently no operational competing rail network.

In exchange for exclusive right to operate inter-city routes, VR has committed to investing in its rolling stock. It has also agreed to abide by annual operational obligations set by the Ministry.

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