VR aims for strong position in competitively tendered passenger services
On 9 August, the Ministry of Transport and Communications announced its plans for opening up passenger services to competitive tendering on an accelerated timetable. The competitive tendering process will begin in Southern Finland, specifically for commuter train services between Helsinki and its neighbouring regions. The competitively tendered traffic services are set to begin in the coming years and the objective is to open all long-distance traffic to competitive tendering by 2026.
Three separate state-owned companies will be spun out from VR-Group Ltd: a rolling stock company, a maintenance company and a real estate company. Rolling stock for passenger services will be gradually transferred to the rolling stock company as the competitive tendering process progresses.
− VR has been preparing for the end of its exclusivity period for a while now. According to the original timetable, this would have occurred by the end of 2024, notes President and CEO Rolf Jansson.
Now the owner and the Ministry of Transport and Communications have decided together on the guidelines for the process of opening services up to competitive tendering. It is a good thing that such a big change will be implemented in phases, as this is the biggest change that the industry has faced in over two decades since the separation of train traffic operations and railway network management.
In addition, many of the phases of this process are still open, for example the practical details of the upcoming companies. These need to be laid out in more detail during the further preparations that will be led by the Ministry, as the details will define how this reorganisation will succeed.
− It is important to ensure the functionality and safety of the railway system during this monumental change. We at VR want to see that both passenger and freight traffic services will continue to service their customers in a reliable and efficient manner. It is important that the Ministry of Transport and Communications and VR can together develop the Ministry's plan. VR will continue its close cooperation with the Ministry to ensure the success of this big change.
VR has experience in competitive tendering
Finnish freight traffic has been open to competition since 2007. Transport services between Finland and Russia were opened to competition at the end of last year. Helsinki Regional Transport (HSL) is preparing for the competitive tendering of commuter train services, and the competitively tendered services will begin in 2021.
– It is important to ensure that the competitive tendering of HSL traffic and the now-proposed competitive tendering of commuter services in Southern Finland are coordinated well. It is also important to secure the efficiency of freight traffic and the services for VR Transpoint customers during this change, emphasises Rolf Jansson.
VR Group employs around 8000 professionals from different fields, and for some, this process will means a great change. Some of VR’s staff will be transferred to these new companies while retaining their existing employee status. These changes also affect employees who will stay in VR Group.
– We must ensure the status of our staff during this process, Rolf Jansson promises.
VR has increased the efficiency of its operations during the last few years.
– We have renewed our services and improved our competitiveness, and with these changes our passenger and freight numbers have shown steady growth as well as an increase in customer satisfaction across all business divisions. At the beginning of the year, the passenger numbers of long-distance traffic increased by almost 10 per cent and the transported tons of railway traffic by 6 per cent. The development of the result and net sales of VR Group has been excellent for the first half of 2017.
– We believe that VR will continue to succeed in the future in competitively tendered traffic, as we are one of the most efficient railway companies in Europe according to several comparisons. We are aiming for a strong position in Finnish railway traffic services in the future as well, Jansson emphasises.
Ministry of Transport and Communications press release and materials, published on 9 August: