The year 2016 was marked by a number of importance changes in the internal operations of VR Track and in the company’s external operating environment.
The approval of the tramway alliance plan for implementing the Tampere tramway project sealed VR Track’s entry into the tram market. In November Harri Lukkarinen, who had previously been in charge of the construction business at VR Track, was appointed the company’s Managing Director.
There was a slight decline in the net sales of VR Track. In Finland, net sales increased, especially in the construction and consulting business. The company posted a profit in its Finnish operations and profitability was at previous year’s levels. The Swedish subsidiary VR Track Sweden AB posted a substantial loss. The weak performance was mainly due to a maintenance contract that will end in April 2017 by joint agreement between the company and the customer.
In late summer, defects involving point maintenance were discovered in the track maintenance areas in Finland that are the responsibility of VR Track. The defects were repaired during autumn 2016. The defects led to improvements in quality management and working methods.
VR Track is seeking new growth in such areas as consulting business and one of the first steps in this direction was the establishment of the subsidiary VR Infrapro AB in Sweden in summer 2016. In 2015, VR Track had decided to withdraw from the Estonian market and the Estonian subsidiary and branch were closed during 2016.
In occupational safety, VR Track posted a new record: The accident frequency rate was only 8.4 at the end of the year. In proactive occupational safety measures, such as deviation observations and reports as well as in safety briefings, the targets set for the year were also exceeded by a wide margin.
The most important aim for the year 2017 is to improve customer satisfaction. There will be substantial inputs into quality management, while at the same time we will set even higher targets for occupational safety. The tram and light rail projects in the capital region as well as road, street and regional planning offer interesting opportunities for growth.
Highlights of the year 2016:
- The Finnish Transport Agency launched a trial project in which the suitability of the alliance model for track maintenance is tested. The alliance-based development of the track maintenance contract for Southwestern Finland was launched in spring 2016 in cooperation with VR Track.
- The alliance-based upgrading of the rail links to the Äänekoski bioproduct mill, a joint project between the Finnish Transport Agency and VR Track, is making rapid progress. The track upgrading project will be completed in autumn 2017.
- The Tampere tramway will be built. The first stage will be constructed between 2017 and 2021 as part of the tramway alliance.
- A road, street and regional planning unit was set up in Tampere to manage projects such as the Tampere tramway.
- VR Track won a large basic refurbishing and superstructure project for the track section between Oulu and Kontiomäki..
- VR Track established the subsidiary VR Infrapro AB in Sweden. The company will specialise in infrastructure consulting.
- VR Track developed its safety communications, which was also directed at external stakeholders on videos promoting rail safety. For example, children at day care centres in Äänekoski learned how to move safely in areas close to railways.
- Ville Saksi, Managing Director of VR Track, handed in his notice in September. Harri Lukkarinen was appointed the company’s Managing Director in November.
Image: What is in your view especially good in VR Tracks operations? A word cloud made from the customers answers, customer satisfaction survey 2016.