A close-up photo of damage on a section of the railway network between Lahti and Kouvola. VR on Monday announced widespread cancellations in its long-distance services, pointing to safety concerns arising from the damage. On Thursday, the state-owned railway company was operating about 80 per cent of its long-distance services, with an almost complete resumption of services expected today. (Handout / Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency)

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VR GROUP, the state-owned railway company in Finland, has been asked to provide a more detailed account of the reason for the recent widespread cancellations in its long-distance services.

VR on Monday reported that it has detected notches in the wheels of rolling stock that had been caused by track damage and, citing safety concerns, cancelled all long-distance services scheduled for Tuesday.

The damage was detected on the section between Lahti and Kouvola. The Ministry of Transport and Communications on Wednesday remarked in a press release that such damage is typically caused by the wheels slipping on the rails.

The state-owned company reported a day later that it has repaired the damaged section of the track, with the long-distance services to be restored as soon as it has completed inspections of the rolling stock. The damaged section, though, had caused significant damage to its fleet, with over 70 per cent of the fleet having run on the section.

On Thursday, the company was operating roughly 80 per cent of its usual long-distance services. VR announced yesterday it expects its trains to run almost as usual, with some occasional exceptions, on Friday.

“We expect a comprehensive account of this entire unusual chain of events,” Minister of Transport and Communications Lulu Ranne (PS) stated on Wednesday.

While the Ministry of Transport and Communications has received a report of the track damage from the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, it wants to examine the reason for the service disruption more closely together with the ownership steering department of the government.

“How the damage was caused, why was it so widespread, how it actually affected safety and why it resulted in such a widespread disruption in rail transport? It is necessary to prevent similar incidents in the future. Passengers must be able to have confidence in the functioning and safety of rail transport,” said Ranne.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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