VR Lowers the Prices of Long-Distance Train Fares Permanently
A happy commuter, Ulla Rannikko, 47, is waiting for the free coffee cup under the gleaming rays of sun filtering through the windows of Helsinki railway station on Tuesday noon. VR doesn’t just serve free coffee today, but has lowered its prices for long-distance fares by about 25 per cent. Permanently.
“I just arrived from Hämeenlinna (about 95 kilometres) to Helsinki and paid about 7 euros of the trip,” Ranikko said smiling. “Normally traveling at this time after the rush hour will cost me about 10 euros,” she said and continued, “The current price will make me choose the train over a car. It’s cheaper.”
In general, a regular passenger has now two options: a basic or a saver ticket.
Basic tickets have two to three price levels per route. The available price level is determined according to demand. On a route with less demand, the price is lower. Students, pensioners, conscripts and persons in non-military service get additional discounts.
The saver ticket is the most affordable choice for all passengers on all routes. Only a limited number of saver tickets are available per train but the tickets can be purchased for almost all trains, though their number is slightly fewer on the busiest routes. There are, however, thousands of saver tickets on offer every day. Additional discounts, for example for students, are not available. The ticket can be booked at the earliest 60 days before departure.
I tried booking a few tickets with the new example prices.
For a train from Tampere to Helsinki (about 161 kilometres), I got a saver ticket with a price of 9.90 euros. A basic ticket had a start-up price of 18 euros.
A destination from Turku to Helsinki (about 151 kilometres) listed the same price for the saver ticket but the basic ticket was one euro cheaper.
For a distance from Joensuu to Helsinki (about 373 kilometres), the saver ticket cost 24.90 euros. A basic ticket was 41 euros.
A man with a long coat of cashmere, with shining shoes and a smile, scurried along the platform after just having departed the Turku-Helsinki train. “I paid about 30 euros for the train,” he said and introduced himself as Jussi Valtonen, 36. “I guess I didn’t look carefully enough for the available discounts.”
I checked a new price for Valtonen for a corresponding time on Wednesday: a train departing Turku at 10:00 had a saver ticket available for 9.90 euros.
Valtonen, who works in Turku, said that he uses long-distant trains maybe once a month. “I think these new prices are welcome. I would definitely choose a train over a bus.”
At a press conference arranged earlier in the morning, Maisa Romanainen, the head of passenger services at VR, explained the details behind the reforms.
In the recent years, VR has suffered from losses in the amount of passengers using the long-distance trains, partly because the bus services were opened for free competition. About 12 million people travel with domestic long-distance trains in a year.
“By the ticket reforms, we aim to increase the long-distance traffic by one million passengers,” Romanainen said.
More info about the ticket reforms can be found here.