The Finnish railway company announced yesterday the interruption of traffic on the line between Saint Petersburg and Helsinki, where the last trains were running that would allow Russian citizens to reach the European Union. The last train Allegro from Russia will arrive in the Finnish capital this Sunday, the national VR operator said.
Despite European sanctions against Moscow after the invasion of Ukraine and the closure of most air and land connections, the connection had been maintained to allow Finnish or Russian citizens – the only nationalities allowed to board – to leave Russia. . “Until now, we have continued the Allegro service in accordance with official recommendations, to ensure the return of Finns to Finland,” Topi Simola, vice president of VR, said in a press release.
Now, the Finnish government believes that enough time has been given to those who would like to return and that “operating the service is no longer appropriate” in view of the sanctions against Russia.
Trains, long crowded in the first weeks after Ukraine’s invasion, averaging about 700 passengers a day, have shown more normal occupancy rates in recent days, around 60%, according to VR.
The Allegro it was suspended for months due to travel restrictions due to the pandemic and returned to circulation last December, when the epidemiological situation improved, with two daily trains in each direction.
Despite the lack of official statistics, thousands of citizens are known to have left the country after the invasion of Ukraine, particularly to Turkey. Finland was also a frequent route, but only Russians who already had a European Schengen visa and an EU-recognized covid vaccine were allowed on the train. Allegro . Now, they will only be able to access the country by private car.
A train connection with a hundred trains per month also connects the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad with the rest of Russia via EU territory (it passes through Lithuania), but Russian citizens in transit cannot get off when it stops in Vilnius.