Image: Siemens Mobility
Sanctions

More than 800 Russian freight cars seized by Finland

Die Wechselstrom-Lokomotive vom Typ Vectron für die finnische Bahn VR hat von der Zulassungsbehörde Trafi die Zulassung für den Betrieb in Finnland erhalten. Die ersten acht Vectron nehmen ab sofort den kommerziellen Betrieb auf. Der erste kommerzielle Einsatz erfolgt heute von der Stadt Tampere zum Hafen Vuosaari in Helsinki. Insgesamt liefert Siemens 80 Lokomotiven an die VR-Gruppe. Es ist der erste Auftrag in Breitspurausführung und zugleich der bislang größte Einzelauftrag für die Vectron-Lokomotive. Alle Loks werden bis Ende 2026 ausgeliefert. The Vectron alternating-current (AC) locomotive for the Finnish railway company VR Group has been authorized for operation in Finland by Trafi, the Finnish Transport Safety Agency. The first eight Vectrons will immediately enter commercial service today. Today, the first commercial operation will start from the City of Tampere and end at the Vuosaari harbor in Helsinki. Siemens will be delivering a total of 80 locomotives to the VR Group. This is the first order for a broad-gauge configuration and at the same time the biggest single order for the Vectron to date. All locomotives are to be delivered by the end of 2026.

Since April 2022, 865 Russian freight cars have been seized by Finnish authorities. Over 82 million euro worth of assets were frozen to comply with EU sanctions on Russian coal after the start of the war in Ukraine.

Four Russian companies were involved in the seizure: Uralchem-Trans, Rusgotrans, GLTK, and Alpha Leasing. The first three companies declined any comment, following the trend of the Russian Ministry of Transport and Russian Railways (RZD). Alpha Leasing, as reported by Reuters, considers the seizure as unlawful, and has filed an appeal to a Finnish court.

VR Group’s spokesperson Taina Kuitunen has told Reuters that the company is planning on returning the freight cars that have not been seized to Russia. The finnish company was considering returning all the Russian rail cars that were on Finnish territory (over 5000), but Finnish bailiffs ordered some to be seized.

Recent developments of Russia-Finland freight traffic

Since the end of March, Finland’s state-owned rail operator, VR Group, has been suspending and resuming freight traffic to and from Russia. Between 27 March and 4 May, traffic has been suspended twice, as stated in previous reports of RailFreight.com. The first ban was lifted at the end of March after consultations with UK authorities pointed out that the sanctions did not affect the contracts stipulated by VR Group.

However, in the beginning of April, the rail freight traffic suspension was reinstated on moral grounds. More specifically, Finland decided to let all existing contracts with Russian freight companies expire and to not sign new ones. In May, VR’s CEO Topi Simola said that traffic to and from Russia is expected to decrease by one-third by the end of the summer.

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Author: Marco Raimondi

Marco Raimondi is an editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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