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.
Today Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom grants the necessary licence for rail transport.
The Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications and the VR Group have negotiated a passenger rail traffic service purchase agreement for the year 2020. The agreement entails a continuation option, which enables the contracting parties to extend the validity of the agreement until 19 June 2022. The length of the option period takes into account the planned opening of passenger rail transport services for competition. 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. HRT has 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 Infrastructure Agency.
Finland has 5,926 km of state railway, of which 3,331 km is electrified and 2,595 km is not electrified. In 2017, 48,098,000 rail kilometres were travelled using the network. Of these, freight traffic accounted for 14,215,000 km and passenger traffic for 33,883,000 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 February 2019.
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: