Finland’s train operator VR has announced that it will stop all services to and from Russia as part of the EU sanctions imposed on Russia due to the latter’s invasion of Ukraine. The Allegro-high-speed train, runs twice daily, between Russia’s city of Saint Petersburg, Helsinki and Schengen.
In this regard, VR said that people who wanted to leave Russia, including citizens from Finland, have had “safe passage” up to this point.
“We have continued to operate the Allegro in accordance with the authorities’ instructions, with the aim of securing access to
Finland for Finns. During these weeks, people who wanted to leave Russia have had time to leave the country,” VR’s Senior Vice President for Passenger Services, Topi Simola, pointed out in a statement.
According to local media reports, in the past months, Allegro services were widely used by citizens of Russia looking to leave the country.
Finland used to run a sleeper train from Helsinki to Russia’s capital; however, it was suspended along with Allegro services due to the spread of the Coronavirus and its new strains.
VR resumed Allegro operations in 2021 on a reduced working time. Since then, only Finnish and Russian citizens who have completed their immunisation process against the virus have been permitted to use the train.
The Allegro train was run jointly by the national railways of Finland and Russia, becoming a symbol of the partnership between the two countries since 2010, when it started to offer its services.
Back then, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and his then Finland counterpart Tarja Halonen travelled on the inaugural service, which reduced travel times on the 400km journey between Finland’s capital and Saint Petersburg down by two hours to 3.5 hours, as reported by France Finland joined the list of European countries that have imposed harsh sanctions on Russia due to the latter’s invasion of Ukraine, while the country has also opened its doors to a large number of refugees from Ukraine who are fleeing the war.
According to Helsinki Times, about 14,200 citizens from Ukraine have applied for international protection in Finland since February 24.
In addition, the figures provided by the UN Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have revealed that over 3,850,000 people have sought refuge outside Ukraine since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In addition, authorities in Finland also provided detailed information regarding the Temporary Protection mechanism that was activated by the Commission of the European Union in order to help refugees from Ukraine stay in a country for a period of one year and have access to the labour market as well as education.