High-speed Allegro to St. Petersburg from 12 December
High-speed Allegro services between Helsinki and St. Petersburg start on 12 December. The travel time is cut to approximately three and a half hours which is more than two hours less than at present. At first there are two daily return services: The 10.00 and 15.00 Allegro services from Helsinki to St. Petersburg and the 06.40 and 15.25 services from St. Petersburg to Helsinki.
Services start in phases so that on Sunday 12 December only the 15.00 Allegro service from Helsinki is operated. On Monday 13 December only the 6.40 Allegro service from St. Petersburg and the 10.00 and 15.00 services from Helsinki are operated. From 14 December there are two daily return services.
Travel time is cut thanks to modern trains, faster border formalities and track upgrades. Travel time is also reduced by the fact that locomotives do not have to be changed at the border. The Allegro stops after Helsinki at Pasila, Tikkurila, Lahti, Kouvola and Vainikkala and in Russia at Vyborg before St. Petersburg as do current trains to Russia.
Finnish Sibelius and Russian Repin trains are longer operated on Helsinki-St. Petersburg line as Allegro services start. Russian night train Tolstoi continues to run between Helsinki and Moscow. By summer 2011 the number of daily return services should increase from two to four thus doubling the current service frequency. Joint venture by VR and Russian Railways The Allegro is a joint venture by VR and RZD, i.e. Russian Railways. VR and RZD are responsible for onboard services, timetables and ticket sales.
The trainsets are owned by VR and RZD's joint rolling stock company Karelian Trains. Alstom has delivered four Allegro trains to the joint venture company. The start of the high-speed services has required extensive track work in Finland and Russia. Station service level has been improved in Kouvola and Vainikkala and in Russia in Vyborg and St. Petersburg. The joint goal of VR and RZD is to triple the passenger volume on Helsinki-St. Petersburg line within ten years of the start of Allegro services.