Thursday, September 09, 2010

St. Petersburg-Helsinki HSR nears debut

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Russian Railways Vice President and Federal Passenger Company General Director Mikhail Akulov said Wednesday plans are set to launch high speed rail service between St. Petersburg and Helsinki, Finland’s capital, in December.

Allegro trains will cover the 443-kilometer (275-mile) route in 3 hours, 30 minutes, down from the current travel time of 6 hours, 18 minutes; travel time within Russia itself will be reduced from 3 hours 11 minutes to 90 minutes. Allegro trains will stop at Vyborg and Vainikkala—the latter on the Russian-Finnish border—as well as Kouvola, Lahti, Tikkurila, and Pasila in Finland.

The shorter journey time is due to the more technically advanced trains, quicker border checkpoint formalities, and greater traveling speeds, Akulov said. The Allegro trains will be able to reach 200 km/h (about 125 mph) on Russian territory, and 220 km/h (135 mph) within Finland.

Initially, two return trips will be made daily. The Allegro service from Helsinki to St. Petersburg will depart at around 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., with service from St. Petersburg to Helsinki departing at or near 6:40 a.m. and 3:25 p.m., Akulov said.

Once Allegro service begins, Finland’s Sibelius train and Russia’s Repin service will cease to run between St. Petersburg and Helsinki. The Russian overnight train Lev Tolstoy will continue to operate between Moscow and Helsinki.