Succesful year 2013
In financial terms, the year 2013 was successful for the VR Group. The Group’s operating profit was significantly better than in the previous year. In particular, the improved operational result shows that the extensive reforms and efficiency improvements carried out in the Group have had an effect.
All business units were profitable. It is equally important that customer satisfaction has been restored after it declined a couple of years ago. More and more Finns like VR, and customer trust is a prerequisite for developing the company.
VR Group is making unprecedented investments in new rolling stock. In 2013, VR presented its new steering cars and its plans to order 80 new electric locomotives. A new double-deck restaurant car was introduced in January 2014. Through these purchases, VR is able to provide customers in Finland with faster, more punctual and more enjoyable rail services.
Rail passenger services are opened to competition when Helsinki Region Transport launches a tendering process for a new commuter service contract. The contract period begins 1 January 2018. VR has already begun preparing for the tendering process which will require the Group to make changes to its operating methods and organisation. The State decided to continue VR’s exclusive right to operate long-distance passenger services until the end of 2024. On one hand, the extension allows the State to prepare for opening up competition on the rail network and, on the other hand, it challenges VR to prove its ability to serve customers.
Industrial restructuring and the international economic situation affect logistics in particular. Thanks to growth in eastbound services and transit services to Russia, the total volume of rail logistics increased even though the volume of domestic transports decreased. Rail transport increased its share in the overall freight transport market for a second consecutive year.
The turnover of passenger services increased. The growth was driven by special offer pricing. VR’s customer loyalty programme Veturi already includes half a million Finns and has received a very positive response from its members in several studies. That is an excellent achievement considering that the programme is only two years old.
An exceptionally larger number of staff will retire in the near future. Over the next three years, a sixth of the Group’s employees, 1,700 people, will retire. The change of generation is also a great opportunity. Our aim is to change and modernise our working methods so that we can replace the retiring staff by recruiting 1,000 new employees.
VR Group has made systematic efforts to improve occupational safety and job satisfaction. The number of accidents at work has decreased by more than a third, and our aim is to ensure that the positive trend continues. According to our personnel survey, satisfaction with the work of supervisors has improved.
We will continue to reform the VR Group. Implementing our major investment programme and being prepared for competition require us to further improve our profitability and efficiency.
I would like to thank all our customers for their trust in 2013.
President and CEO