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Rail operator VR reports €15m loss in first quarter

Travel by rail decreased by more than half compared to the same time last year.

Mies odottaa junaa Tikkurilan rautatieasemalla.
Travel by train has been reduced by Covid crisis. Image: Mikko Ahmajärvi / Yle

State railway VR reported a loss of almost 15 million euros in January-March 2021. A year ago, the company reported a profit of just under 13 million euros. Sales decreased by more than 18 percent to just under 190 million.

The company cited the Covid pandemic as the main reason for the decline.

"The epidemic had a large impact on the beginning of our year. Passenger volume remained at the same level as in the fourth quarter of 2020. Business travel, in particular, has been sparse, which is why our operations have continued to operate at a loss," said VR CEO Rolf Jansson in a press release.

Compared to the same time frame, one year ago, long-distance train travel decreased by 61 percent. Due to the pandemic, VR has had to limit the number of passengers throughout the country.

"At the beginning of the year, we have had to reduce our market-based train services. However, we monitor demand on a weekly basis, and are able to quickly restore these routes," Jansson says.

Jansson believes train travel will begin to recover gradually in the summer as Covid restrictions ease.

"Hopefully, we will also be able to restart our route to Russia this summer, which has been suspended since March last year," he said.

Freight transport on par with 2020

Freight transport volumes from January-March remained at the same level as last year. According to Jansson, domestic demand has been good.

The transportation of forest industry products, like pulp and timber, have grown, but the transport of paper has decreased, compared to last year, due to the reduction of production capacity in the mills.

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