Practice familiar from the metro extended to trains: Buy your ticket before boarding the commuter train
On 19 June, a new customer service model will be introduced in the Helsinki region commuter trains. Ticket sales in commuter trains will end and conductors will start to move on trains in pairs. The new model will apply both to trains in HSL’s area and to VR’s commuter trains. At the same time, the commuter services area will be extended to Tampere.
As from 19 June, tickets for commuter trains must be bought before the train journey starts. The majority of train tickets are already bought from locations other than trains. The largest number of tickets are bought from ticket machines and using the travel card, and the use of VR Mobile is also on the increase. That share of tickets sold on board trains has been declining: the share of tickets sold on board in VR’s commuter services area in all ticket sales went down by 40 per cent from the previous year. The share of tickets sold on board HSL’s trains (1.6%) has also been declining evenly.
The new model, in which conductors move on trains in pairs helping and guiding customers and checking their tickets, will be introduced on the week before Midsummer. While on board the train, conductors serve customers in the whole train, whereas before, the conductor was only available in the ticket-selling car. After having worked through one train, conductors will move on to the next train. Conductors will check about 75 per cent of all trains; however, they will check the busiest routes most often. In the evening and at night, all trains will have conductors.
– With the new operating model, customers will meet our conductors more often, which makes staff more accessible and increases the feeling of safety among customers, and certainly reduces travelling without a ticket, says Teemu Sipilä, VR’s Director of Commuter Services.
– HSL is preparing for the opening of train traffic to competition in 2021 and the aim is to have the best-functioning commuter train service in Europe. The changes taking place in the summer will be a step in that direction. There are many alternative ways for customers to purchase their tickets. Almost one million residents in the Helsinki region have a travel card and more than 350,000 have HSL’s mobile tickets on their phones. In HSL’s trains, customers can continue to buy tickets from card readers using the value they have loaded on their travel cards. We will also bring ticket machines to all railway stations within the HSL area, from which a single ticket can be bought using a travel card, says Mari Flinck, the director of the Customer Experience and Sales department at HSL.
VR’s commuter tickets can most conveniently be bought from the VR Commuter mobile application and from the renewing vr.fi Online Shop, regardless of time and place. R-Kioskis and Customer Care also sell tickets for trains in the direction of Tampere, Lahti and Siuntio. VR’s ticket machines and station ticket offices sell tickets for both VR and the HSL area.
VR’s commuter services area extended to Tampere
According to studies, customers choose the commuter train if the connections are good, the price is right, travelling is easy and the train is on time. The punctuality of rail traffic is among the best in Europe. In every month in 2016, punctuality was at least on the same level or better than in 2016: in 2016, the punctuality of commuter trains was 95.5 per cent. Correspondingly, the prices in VR’s commuter traffic have come down on average by 5 per cent from 2015. VR aims to unify the pricing in the now expanding commuter services area. More information will be made available towards the summer.
Travel on the current commuter routes to Riihimäki, Lahti and Siuntio is similar kind of commuting as on the Riihimäki-Tampere and Riihimäki-Lahti lines, so it is natural that commuter trains will in future run as far as to Tampere. Tickets must be bought before the journey starts in these trains, too, and conductors will move in pairs on the trains in this area. More ticket machines will be installed to the stations in the area. New ticket machines will be installed to stations between Riihimäki and Lahti by the end of 2017. Until then, tickets for this route can still be bought from trains.
Commuter services is part of VR Passenger Services and is responsible for commuter train services in the Helsinki region (HSL area) and from Helsinki to Lahti, Tampere (as from 19 June) and Siuntio (VR commuter services area). Every year, a total of about 70 million passengers use commuter trains and every day, about 800 commuter trains operate in Helsinki. More than 600 professionals work in commuter services and the annual net sales is about 100 million euros.