Key events in 2013
A new organisational structure for VR Track was adopted at the start of 2013. The new structure aims to improve support for the life cycle of individual infrastructure projects, and it groups the services provided by VR Track under the engineering, construction and maintenance businesses, equipment and materials services, and international operations.
The engineering business had a full order book throughout the year. The most important projects included the construction design for the Lielahti-Kokemäki alliance project, construction design for the Kokkola-Riippa and Eskola-Ylivieska double-tracking projects, and the track maintenance register and service agreement for 2013-2014 concluded with the Finnish Transport Agency.
A number of new projects
In construction, VR Track started work on a number of new projects in early summer, such as the superstructure work on the Ring Rail Line in Havukoski, superstructure work between Ylivieska and Kilpua and the alterations at the Vihanti traffic operating point. Work on projects started before the year in review also continued during 2013, including the renovation of the Lielahti-Kokemäki section and the double tracking of the section between Kokkola and Riippa.
VR Track is a Nordic pioneer in using the method of building a bridge alongside the track and then moving it into place. During the year in review, the company moved a total of 15 bridges in different parts of the Finnish rail network. For example, during a break in rail services in late June, two rail bridges (at Siuronkoski and Putajanjoki) were moved into place. In both projects, the steel bridge decks were replaced. Moving the Siuronkoski bridge also involved substantial catenary work.
VR Track makes extensive use of 3D models developed by its engineers in operating the construction machinery. Railways and the machinery used on them form a demanding environment and for this reason the company has developed new technology for its track maintenance equipment. VR Track's machine-controlled screens and its soil-replacement machine are probably the first of their kind in the world.
A five-year contract in maintenance in uusimaa region
In April, VR Track began maintenance of the tracks and safety equipment in the Uusimaa region under a new five-year contract. The region is the most important in Finland in terms of rail traffic. It has about 285 kilometres of lines (mostly multi-track), a large number of busy commuter lines, the tunnel section to the Vuosaari Harbour, the Ring Rail Line (to open in 2015), high-speed lines (such as the Kerava-Lahti direct line) and the two most critical points in the Finnish rail network: the Helsinki-Pasila section and the Ilmala rail yard.
Success in Sweden
In international operations, VR Track Sweden AB strengthened its position in the Swedish track maintenance market. The company's order book grew substantially during the year, and it won a large number of new track construction contracts. The most important of these was the project for the Mälarbanan railway, which will raise the rail capacity in the Stockholm region by expanding the section between Kallhäll and Barkarby into a four-track line. The upgrading will be completed during 2016. VR Track Sweden AB is responsible for construction of the tracks in the project.
In spring 2013, the name of VR Track’s Estonian subsidiary was changed to VR Track Estonia AS. Leasing machine capacity to local operators was the company's main business during the year in review. In December, VR Track Estonia AS began a flash-butt welding project in Lithuania, which will last about one year.
There were further improvements in occupational safety during 2013. Pre-emptive measures and improvements in initial training and communications resulted in a substantial decrease in accidents. The work put into safety improvement was successful: the accident frequency rate dropped to 13.8.
VR Track conducted a survey of customer satisfaction in September 2013. The respondents assessed the company’s performance on a scale of 1 to 5. The overall score was 3.9, or one tenth lower than a year before. According to the survey, VR Track met the expectations of its customers 92% of the time.