State Railways VR is negotiating with various cities and municipalities to arrange a joint transport ticket app so that travellers can easily combine train voyages with bus or taxi trips, and even arrange car parking or hire.
In larger urban areas, the aim is to harmonise local bus and train schedules and offer one-stop reservations of all travel-related services – and to encourage motorists to try using public transport rather than driving their own cars.
Such combination ticketing is already being tested in Helsinki as well as in the southeastern Kymenlaakso region including the cities of Kouvola, Kotka and Hamina.
In the south-central city of Tampere, VR is already collaborating with local mass transit operator Nysse. Its mobile app allows travellers to book R and M commuter trains in the Tampere region as well as long-distance Intercity and Pendolino trains and VR-operated 'rail buses'. The pilot is backed by the Ministry of Transport and Communications with local and regional authorities in Pirkanmaa.
After the coronavirus pandemic subsides, VR plans to start rolling out its new ticketing app in the cities of Tampere, Turku, Seinäjoki and Oulu.
Few use trains if station is more than 10 km away
"Our target is for a million more trips annually to be made on long-distance trains, and rail to grow to 10 percent market share of all domestic travel," says Antti Tuominen, VR’s passenger rail development director.
About 15 million trips were made on VR long-distance trains in 2019.
In particular, VR aims to attract motorists who live a bit further away from railway stations and do not currently use trains at all.
"Ten kilometres seems to be a limit of sorts. It's difficult to attract people who live further than that from the nearest train station," Tuominen tells Yle.
Therefore private car use will be built into the app's travel chain, with options to pay for parking – as well as information on where to park for free.
Tuominen points out that from the standpoint of transport emissions, it is important that the longest leg of each journey be made by rail or other public transport rather than by car.