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Alpine Railway


Communications link - Finland - Karelian Trains            

 Karelian Trains Background    
The Karelian trains is a 50%/50% subsidiary of the mighty RzD (Russian Railways) and VR-Yhtyma of Finland. The company will operate a 4 train fleet of Allegro 7 car Pendolinos from St Petersburg to Helsinki establishing the long awaited high speed connection between the two cities of millions of inhabitans. While the market is very lucrative and after 10 years of operations there probably will be room for ten fold number of trains, you have to realise that there still are obstacles for traffic like Visas from EU to Russia, that inhibit the travelling. However the Karelian trains new Pendolino trains of Alstom will start new era in the transportation between these two populated areas and hopefully the unnecessary obstacles will also be removed in the negtotiations. 

Karelian Trains Allegro Pendolino Sm6 nr1 unit onlin for the first time in Kerava, FinlandPicture: Although Finland is a small country, the southern coast traffic volumes are quite high. This is the first picture ever to be published of the Allegro unit online! Here seen passing Kerava the unit features comfortable travelling for almost 500 people and all the necesssary technology for operations in the two countires (read: everything is doubled). Note the demanding conditions for the railroading with the flying snow and cold temperatures of down to -35 degrees centigrade! The new Allegro Pendolinos will meet these demanding conditions as have their predecessors Sm3 trains. 
Karelian Trains Allegro Pendolino unit and the company management from Finland and Russia
The CEO of Karelian trains Ali Huttunen and the Vice President Akulov of the RzD pose for the cameras at the press conference on the new Allegro service.  
Karelian Trains Allegro unit 01 front in the air in Vuosaari
Above the Allegro unit 01 cab car of the Pendolino. Pendolinos are already common train type in Finland. The Allegros are a further developed version of the 18 Pendolino S220/400s now in use in Finland. If you look at the picture, you can see the bellows that make the train tilt up to 8 degrees. Also visible behing the bogie is a cardan axle connecting bogie to the driving motor, since there is no room in the bogie for the normal motor-in-the-bogie configuration.   !Click any picture to see al larger version of it!  

 Karelian Trains Allegro Story    
Many old European operators have it hard to alter old bureaucratic ways of thinking and acting, and have found a solution to this by founding small forward looking subsidiaries to certain market segments. These subsidiaries have often been found out to be innovative, efficient and economically successfull. In every case the new operations have found the market continually growing, just the pace of this varies. The Karelian trains Allegro is one story, others being operations like Railjet of ÖBB, Fyra of NS, Eurostar Group, Thalys, ...   
Karelian Trains Allegro Pendolino Sm6 nr1 unit inside Ilmala depot with a Pendolino Sm3 of VR-Yhtyma, Helsinki, Finland
Why create a joint venture? Why don't the RzD and VR act on their own like before? It seems like in any other business, on the rails too you have to have a certain volume to be an effective competitor to airlines and other serious forms of transportation (and rails have definitely proved their worthines!). Rules like hourly schedules enabled by the volume can be quite easy for the customer to memorize. Only together can the RzD and VR-yhtyma achieve the necessary initial volume for successfull operations. Currently there is most of the time only one morning train and one evening train between Helsinki and St Petersburg, travel time for little over 300 kilometers (200 miles) taking up to 6 hours (the single most obsolete way of travelling around). As the cities together have 6 million inhabitants, the customer potential is huge, once the operations gets started for real. While the RzD and VR-Yhtyma are also accustomed to work together in other arenas, it was probably "easy" to set up the Karelian trains and order the trains necessary for success. The Pendolino and its support operations are well known for the VR-yhtyma, so this Alstom train was an easy choise. What is new that nowadays Alstom vishes to hadle the service of its trains itself like it does in several other countries.  
Karelian Trains Allegro Pendolino unit outside Ilmala depot, Helsinki, Finland
The operations for Karelian Trains will start in December 2010, just before the yearly high season for the travels between the two cities, a perfect timing if everything works well. We expect the operations will be a great economical and operational success with its current innovative management and personnel and lead to even more trains of working together or independently by each party. The RzD also has Velaro-Rus "Sapsan" units in use, capable of speed of up to 250 km/h (later 300 km/h), which could easily complement the service and even some of the VR-Yhtyma (very similar to Allegro) Pendolinos might be possible to alter to use on this connection if need be.       


 Allegro Destinations 
The initial Allegro Destinations will be between Helsinki and St Petersburg. Helsinki has over 1 million inhabitants while the St Petersburg is a huge city with its over 5 million inhabitants. Before more destinations more rolling stock will be needed but expect to see high speed Pendolinos and Velaros between Helsinki and Moscow after a few years of operations. 
Karelian Trains Allegro unit 01 in VuosaariThe Pendolino cab car is being lowered from the ship at Vuosaari harbor for its final stretch by truck to Helsinki rail yard, where the manufacturer Alstom will put the train together before test driving takes place.  

Karelian Trains Allegro Pendolino unit outside Ilmala depot in Käpylä, Helsinki, Finland

    More details on Allegro Trains...          

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Created for by John McKey. Pictures by Stanislav Voronin, Ilkka Siissalo and John McKey.

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© Railroad Reference 2004 - 2010  -  Created 5.2.2010 John McKey, Updated 3.4.2010