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.
Based on an agreement between VR and the Ministry of Transport and Communications, VR has exclusive right to provide passenger rail transport services in Finland until the end of 2024. The exclusive right applies to all passenger rail transport in Finland, excluding the commuter train transport services provided by Helsinki Region Traffic (HRT).
HRT has put its commuter train transport services out to tender and the project is under way. The winning operator will be confirmed likely in spring 2020. Transport procured through competitive tendering is scheduled to start in summer 2021.
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.
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 latest Market Monitoring Report was published in April 2019: