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Finnish railways to cut back on maintenance staff

Sales on long-distance routes have continued to drop, partly due to stiff competition from low-cost bus lines and a decline in cross-border tourism.

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Fewer passengers are opting for long-haul trips by train. Image: VR Group

State Railways VR plans to cut up to 100 jobs in its rolling stock maintenance department. On May 4, the national train operator will begin redundancy talks involving some 300 employees. VR says it aims to reduce costs by millions of euros through the reduction in force.

In the first quarter of this year, VR lost 7.6 million euros. Last year's first-quarter loss was just a fraction of that: 1.3 million euros. Turnover dipped by more than six percent compared to a year earlier.

Passenger volumes and profits met expectations in the heavily-populated Helsinki region. But occupancy on long-distance routes continued to drop. Sales were down by more than five percent, partly due to stiff competition from low-cost bus lines. Ridership on trains to and from Russia also declined. This is turn has been spurred by the decline in value of the Russian rouble and uncertainty over sanctions and the Ukraine crisis, the company says.

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