The logo of VR at Helsinki Central Station on 12 February 2024. VR has submitted its report of the widespread long-distance service cancellations it made in response to the detection of track damage, calling for a thorough third-party probe into the incident. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)

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VR, the state-owned railway company of Finland, has presented its account of the disruption witnessed in long-distance rail services on 13 February to the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

The report may contain more questions than answers, as well as an unusual mystery concerning the fate of a report made by locomotive drivers, according to YLE.

The Finnish public broadcasting company reported last week that locomotive drivers submitted a report of a clank and suspected track damage into the joint messaging system of drivers and Finntraffic on Friday, 9 February. What is unusual is that the report vanished from the system three days later and that damaged section was not located until four days later, on 13 February.

“Dozens of trains passed through the site, but drivers no longer reported their sightings because the drive log already had an entry about suspected track damage. For some reason, the report was removed from the system at 2.34pm on Monday, 12 February, before the damage had been located,” reads the report from VR.

The company detected several damaged wheels in its rolling stock and cancelled all long-distance services for Tuesday. It argued in the report that the damaged section caused widespread damage to its fleet because repairs were delayed, estimating that a third-party investigation into the incident is warranted.

“To ensure the Finnish railway system’s safety, VR is proposing that this incident be investigated thoroughly, transparently and in an unbiased manner by a neutral party,” reads the release signed by CEO Elisa Markula.

“So that similar incidents can be avoided in future.”

Its report to the ministry lays out 13 unanswered questions, including the disappearance of the driver report, the delay in locating the damaged section, the failure to request further information from locomotive drivers and the decision not to lower the speed limit for the section.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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