Allegro rail services start on 12 December
VR from 09.09.2010
High-speed Allegro rail services between Helsinki and St. Petersburg start on 12 December. The travel time between the two cities will be cut by two hours to three and a half hours.
At first two return services will be operated: Allegro departures from Helsinki to St. Petersburg are at 10.00 am and 3.00 pm and from St. Petersburg to Helsinki at 6.40 am and 3.25 pm.
Travel time is cut due to technically more modern trains, faster border formalities and upgraded line. The top speed of the Allegro is 220 km/h. The trains are electric multiple units which means that locomotive change is no longer required.
After departure from Helsinki the Allegro stops at Pasila, Tikkurila, Lahti, Kouvola and Vainikkala and in Russia at Vyborg before St. Petersburg, in the same way as current services to Russia.
Finnish Sibelius and Russian Repin trains are longer operated on Helsinki-St. Petersburg line as Allegro services start. Russian night train Tolstoi continues to run between Helsinki and Moscow.
By summer 2011 the number of daily return services should increase from two to four thus doubling the current service frequency.
Improvement in service level
Allegro has seats for 344 passengers of which 296 in 2nd Class and 48 in 1st Class.
The train has spaces for passengers using a wheelchair, seats for pet-owners, a conference compartment and a playroom for children. Allegro also has currency exchange and tax free refund services. The restaurant car has tables for diners and standing room for dropping in. The train is non-smoking.
An Allegro journey from Helsinki to St. Petersburg in 2nd Class costs €84 and in 1st Class €134. The First Class fare includes a snack and daily newspapers and coffee or tea from a self-service counter.
VR and RZD joint venture
The Allegro is a joint venture by VR and RZD, i.e. Russian Railways. VR and RZD are responsible for onboard services, timetables and ticket sales. The trainsets are owned by VR and RZD's joint rolling stock company Karelian Trains.
Three of the four ordered Allegro trainsets are undergoing testing and test runs in Finland and Russia. The fourth trainset is due to arrive in Finland in the autumn from the factory.
Most experts think that the privatization of Russian Railways JSC is untimely at the current stage, and evaluate its potential efficiency level as very low.