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Swift and busy traffic: The 150-year-old Helsinki–St. Petersburg line is an important rail connection

Published 11.9.2020

Over 150 years ago on 11 September 1870, on the name day of Tzar Alexander II, the first rail connection between Finland and Russia was opened – the Riihimäki–St. Petersburg line. The track from Helsinki to Riihimäki had been completed earlier, so the new line also connected the cities of Helsinki and St. Petersburg.

Helsinki-Pietari 150 vuotta

Today, the Helsinki–St. Petersburg line is an important passenger and freight transport route, carrying both high-speed passenger traffic and heavy goods traffic. It is part of the TEN-T transport network, which seeks to develop a safe and sustainable EU-wide transport system and the promotion of seamless movement of goods and people.

The completion of the St. Petersburg line was particularly significant for facilitating international freight traffic and foreign trade. The growth in trade over these 150 years has been huge: last year, the volume of freight traffic passing through Vainikkala was around 8.1 million tonnes. Passenger traffic has also been central to the use of the St. Petersburg line since its inception. In 2010, the journey time was reduced to just three and a half hours with the introduction of the Allegro train. In recent years, passenger traffic on the St. Petersburg line has been growing sharply, and in 2019 more than 650 000 border crossings were made at Vainikkala.

A long history with many stories – online exhibition pieces together the history of the rail connection

Constructing the Hunger Line, summer cottage life on the River Terijoki, taking a trip on the Sibelius Train...the online exhibition offers numerous perspectives on the history of the line. Put together by the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency and the Railway Museum, the exhibition covers the different chapters in the story of the Helsinki–St. Petersburg track and offers rich details of the history of the 150-year-old rail connection. The online exhibition is a permanent one, and the Railway Museum will also open a photo exhibition at some point during the autumn.

Link to the online exhibition (only in Finnsh and in Russian)