Rail services in Finland stalled by heavy snow

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Heavy snow has forced VR, Finland’s state-owned rail services provider, to cancel all inter-city train rides until Thursday. (Antti Eintola/Yle)
Finland’s state-owned rail services provider VR has announced that it will cancel all inter-city train rides until Thursday due to heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures. Last weekend, VR had said that snow would cause delays and cancellations into Monday.

The decision means no rail services on 18 routes, some of which will be served by buses instead. The suspended routes include trips between Helsinki and Turku, Helsinki and Tampere, Helsinki – Lappeenranta, Tampere – Vaasa and Vaasa and Seinäjoki. Commuters are being advised to check the VR website for a full list of the affected routes.

The company said that recent unusually heavy snowfall has affected rail switches and also disrupted trains’ electrical and air pressure systems. In addition snow and ice have also damaged some of the firm’s rolling stock. VR said it hopes that cancelling some services will allow time for thawing and maintenance of the trains.

Delays still likely

VR has also advised commuters to prepare for delays on other routes that remain operational. The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency (Väylävirasto) said that Finland’s railways are prepared for snow.

“We are now running rail maintenance at maximum volume and we are prepared for expected snow. But since the beginning of the year we have already experienced five sets of thick, long-lasting snowfall in southern Finland,” maintenance unit director Magnus Nygård said in a statement.

Daily Helsingin Sanomat reported on Monday Helsinki had seen historic levels of snowfall this winter.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Northwestern Canada: hopes sinking for Dawson City ice bridge, despite cold snap, CBC News

Finland: Arctic Finland: Coldest weekend so far this winter, Yle News

Norway: New climate report predicts extreme warming for Arctic Svalbard by 2100, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Strong winds roar across central Sweden, Radio Sweden

United States: Alaska’s Cold War radars face new threat from climate change, Alaska Public Media

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