In recent years, competition has become a topic of interest on Finland’s railways. Since the 1990s, the EU has aimed to promote competition, including through numerous legislative packages.
Freight transport on Finland’s railways was opened up for competition at the beginning of 2007. At present three railway companies, VR Group, Ratarahti Oy and Fenniarail Oy, operate on the state-owned rail network. On 15 May 2012, the Ministry of Transport and Communications issued Ratarahti Oy with a licence to engage in rail freight transportation. The licence entered into effect on 1 August 2012.The Ministry of Transport and Communications granted Fenniarail Oy an operating licence to engage in rail freight transportation on 26 March 2015. Fenniarail operation has started in July 2016. The Ministry of Transport and Communications has also issued Aurora Rail Oy with a licence to engage in rail freight transportation. The licence entered into effect on 1 July 2017.
The Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications and the VR Group have negotiated a rail traffic service purchase agreement for the years 2016-2019. The agreement covers purchases of long-distance services as well as commuter services outside the area of Helsinki Region Transport. The agreement is valid for a fixed term until 31 December 2019. With the purchase agreement, the VR Group receives an exclusive right for passenger rail services.
Helsinki Region Transport (HRT) is planning a tendering round with regard to commuter traffic in the Helsinki region. In the beginning of April, HRT negotiated a five-year transitional agreement with the VR Group for the period from 1 April 2016 to June 26 2021. During the period of agreement, the VR Group intends to reshape its functions so that other rail service operators will be able to enter the commuter traffic market in the Helsinki region.
In addition to a Safety Certificate and operating licence, a railway company wishing to operate on the state railway network must enter into a rail network access agreement with and apply for rail capacity from the Finnish Transport Agency.
Finland has 5,926 km of state railway, of which 3,270 km is electrified and 2,656 km is not electrified. In 2016, 46,828,000 rail kilometres were travelled using the network. Of these, freight traffic accounted for 13,301,000 km and passenger traffic for 33,527,000 km.
The development of the rail market is monitored annually at national and international level through various reports and questionnaires.
On the basis of an annual questionnaire issued to Member States the European Commission publishes a report, drawn up every second year for the Council and European Parliament, on its monitoring of development in the rail market. The latest report was published in December 2016.
Commission's report to the Council and European Parliament:
Finland is involved in IRG-Rail, the Independent Regulators' Group in Europe. IRG-Rail also monitors the rail market and publishes an annual market monitoring report.
The sixth market monitoring report was published in March 2018: