Helsinki commuter rail
|Area served||Uusimaa, Päijät-Häme, Kanta-Häme
|Transit type||Commuter rail|
|Number of lines||14|
|Number of stations||44 in the HSL region
52 in total
|Daily ridership||194 500 per weekday (2016 average)|
|System length||99.2 km (62 mi)|
|Track gauge||1,524 mm (60.0 in)|
|Electrification||25 kV / 50 Hz|
|Average speed||54 km/h (34 mph)|
|Top speed||120 to 160 km/h|
Helsinki commuter rail (Finnish: Pääkaupunkiseudun lähiliikenne, Swedish: Huvudstadsregionens närtrafik, proper translation Local traffic of the capital region) is the commuter rail system serving Greater Helsinki, Finland. The network is part of the HSL network, and is operated by VR, the Finnish national railway company. Together with the Helsinki Metro, buses, and trams, the network forms the heart of Helsinki's public transportation infrastructure.
Trains run primarily above ground in the Helsinki metropolitan area. Within the municipalities of Espoo, Helsinki, Kauniainen, Kerava, Kirkkonummi, and Vantaa, the system uses tickets that are interchangeable with the bus, metro, and tram networks managed by HSL. Traveling beyond Kerava and Kirkkonummi uses VR commuter tickets, which are sold in zones from A (Helsinki) to H (Lahti). The HSL-zone is completely within VR zones A, B, and C.
The network is composed of 14 separate services, pictured in the network map below. They operate on all four branches of the railway lines that begin at the Helsinki Central railway station, which is where they all terminate. The system has a total of 52 stations, 14 of which are within the city of Helsinki. There are about 676 departures every weekday. The commuter rail services carried a total 55.1 million passengers in 2011.
In the Helsinki region, local train services have existed since the 1880s. At first, it was offered on the Main Line up to Rekola railway station.
The Coastal Line was finished in 1903. This line was built mostly with commuter traffic in mind, so immediately, housing began to develop near the stations.
During the steam locomotive era, local traffic was handled with locomotives like the Pr1 (Paikku) and wooden carriages with extra wide doors for rapid loading of passengers. The amount of trips increased vastly after Finland gained independence in 1917, with 4 million trips in 1920 and 9 million in 1924. The depression of the 1930s hit the commuter traveling, and there were only 3 million trips at the lowest. By 1939, the amount of trips had risen back to 4 million.
The tracks were not upgraded significantly during steam or diesel eras. Both the Main Line and the beginning of the Coastal Line up to Kirkkonummi had only dual tracks to accommodate long-distance, freight, and commuter trains. The Coastal Line is still only single track between Kirkkonummi and Turku.
Current operation started to get its shape in 1969 when the first stretch, between Helsinki and Kirkkonummi, was electrified. Route designation letters were introduced on 28 May 1972. In the same year, the then-existing commuter routes were completely electrified and a third track was added between Helsinki and Tikkurila. The third track was extended to Kerava in 1981.
The railway branch from Huopalahti to Martinlaakso, opened in 1975, was built exclusively for commuter trains, being first such line in Finland. It was later further extended to Vantaankoski. In 2015, it was connected to the Hiekkaharju railway station, on the Main Line, by the Ring Rail Line.
Currently on the track sections between Helsinki and Leppävaara and Helsinki and Kerava, the commuter services use rails parallel to, but separate from those used by long-distance trains, following the S-Bahn principle. The fourth track, which enabled separate "city track traffic", was ready up to Tikkurila in 1996 and to Kerava in 2004. On the Coastal Line the section between Pasila and Leppävaara was upgraded directly from dual track to four tracks in 2001.
The railway branch from Kerava to Lahti, opened in 2006, was built as a shortcut for long-distance services, and also for the use of the new commuter service Z.
The Ring Rail Line started operating on 1 July 2015. The station at the Helsinki Airport was set open later, with the Tietotie entrance opening on 10 July and the direct connection to the terminal opening in the Autumn. It extended the Vantaankoski branch via Aviapolis and Helsinki Airport to the Main Line just north of Tikkurila station. The extension introduced five new stations with reservations for three more. Unlike other tracks, a section of the Ring Rail Line beneath the airport will run in tunnel with tunnel stations for the airport and Aviapolis. Planning and construction of Ring Line has been done so that it will be possible to construct a branch line to Klaukkala in the future.
There are existing plans to extend the four track line to Espoo from Leppävaara. This would enable enhanced service interval to Kauklahti and also benefit long-distance traffic to Turku, which is now hampered by commuter trains on the same tracks in the section between Kirkkonummi and Leppävaara.
A major increase in capacity of the Helsinki Central railway station has been planned, as rail capacity at Helsinki station is fully used at peak hours, preventing increases in service. The Helsinki City Rail Loop would feature an underground, drop-shaped railway starting just south of Pasila railway station and coming back after traveling in a loop around under the Helsinki city centre. There would be three underground stations at Töölö (west), Helsinki city centre (south), and Hakaniemi metro station (east). The Rail Loop will be 7 kilometres (4 mi) long. The extension is expensive (€956 million) and planned to be completed in the 2020s.
Rantarata (The Coastal/Turku Line)
The Y line is the longest line on the Coastal Line. It operates between Helsinki and Siuntio with very few intermediate stops. The services run quite infrequently, with three to seven daily departures in each direction, depending on the day of the week. The train has scheduled stops at Pasila, Huopalahti, Leppävaara, Masala, and Kirkkonummi. When Finland's first electrified line (from Helsinki to Kirkkonummi) was opened, the first service was Y. In 1987 the former Y train service ended and was replaced by S and U trains in 1988. In 2002, the route designation Y was introduced again, as after the Leppävaara city tracks were finished, there was a possibility to add a fast commuter train connection to Karis. Before this, a few of the S and U services continued from Kirkkonummi to Karis. In March 2016 the Y line was shortened to Siuntio.
The X line was introduced in March 2016. It shares the stopping pattern with the Y train but terminating at Kirkkonummi.
Train U runs from Helsinki to Kirkkonummi. It runs twice in an hour. It stops between Helsinki and Leppävaara only at Pasila and Huopalahti. Between Leppävaara and Kirkkonummi, it stops on every station. In March 2016 two stations between Kauklahti and Masala were closed and then once per hour U train now runs twice per hour, replacing the earlier S line train.
Train L runs from Helsinki to Kirkkonummi. The service runs only at nights and on weekend mornings. There is one departure from Karis on Sunday mornings. It has more stops than any other train in this system, as it calls on every station between Karis and Helsinki. Before the inauguration of the Leppävaara city tracks and the A train in 2002, the L train was running also on daytime.
Train E runs from Helsinki to Kauklahti. It stops between Helsinki and Leppävaara only at Pasila and Huopalahti and between Leppävaara and Kauklahti at every station. It runs once in half an hour, except on Sundays, when there is no service. The route was continued in August 2007 to Kauklahti from former terminus at Espoo station. If city tracks extension from Leppävaara to Espoo station is constructed, E train will form backbone of commuter traffic on the Coastal Line, calling at every station between Helsinki and Kauklahti.
Train A runs from Helsinki to Leppävaara. It stops at every station. It runs at 10-minute intervals during rush hours, otherwise at 20-minute intervals on working days and at 30-minute intervals on weekends. The route designation A was originally used from 28 May 1972 to 25 May 1974 for Kirkkonummi service, and it was re-introduced in June 2002.
The Ring Rail Line and Vantaankoski Line
Trains I and P run in opposing directions to each other in a ring pattern between Helsinki and Helsinki Airport in Vantaa. They stop at all stations. The I train runs counterclockwise, leaving from Helsinki, then passing through Tikkurila, then through Helsinki Airport, and through Martinlaakso back to Helsinki. The P train does this clockwise (in reverse), leaving from Helsinki, then passing through Martinlaakso, then through Helsinki Airport, and through Tikkurila back to Helsinki.
The Ring Rail line was completed in 2015, and acted as a continuation of the Vantaankoski Line, simultaneously replacing the M train with P, and extending the I train past its original stop at Tikkurila.
The Main/Riihimäki Line
Train K runs from Helsinki to Kerava. It runs once in every 10 minutes at daytime. It stops between Helsinki and Tikkurila at Pasila, Oulunkylä, Malmi and Puistola. Between Tikkurila and Kerava it stops at every station. An extension of the line to Nikkilä in Sipoo has been planned using a part of existing branch to Kilpilahti oil refinery. K is an original letter designation from 1972. In the 1970s and early 1980s K trains did not stop at Puistola, Malmi and Oulunkylä. Oulunkylä was added only after completion of city tracks to Kerava in 2004.
Train N runs from Helsinki to Kerava. It stops at every station. The service runs when I and P services don't (late night, early morning), replacing the K service. Last departures at night and on mornings are run as T trains. N is an original route dating from 1972, but until 2010 it used to be in a minor role running only on low-volume hours in early morning and in late evening.
Train T runs at night once in an hour from Helsinki to Riihimäki. There is a several hour gap in late night with no service. T stops at every station and has been doing so since 1972.
Train R runs from Helsinki to Riihimäki. It runs twice in an hour most of the day. All R trains have low floor fleet and timetable requires trains to be capable of 160 km/h speed. The trains stop between Helsinki and Riihimäki at Pasila, Tikkurila, Kerava, Ainola, Järvenpää, Saunakallio, Jokela and Hyvinkää. R is an original letter from 1972 and has been running on same stop scheme since the inception with one exception which was adding Tikkurila stop in the 80s and both Ainola and Saunakallio in March 2016. The R train also increased the service frequency when the H train was discontinued. Some of the R trains continue to Tampere or Kouvola.
Train D runs from Helsinki to Riihimäki. It is a rush hour service stopping only at few stations. Most of the D trains use older coaches from the 80s pulled by an electric locomotive instead of EMUs.
The Lahti Line
Train Z runs from Helsinki to Lahti. It runs once in an hour. All Z trains have low floors and timetable requires trains to be capable of 160 km/h speed. The service stops between Helsinki and Lahti at Pasila, Tikkurila, Kerava, Haarajoki and Mäntsälä. During the rush hours, the Z service is often crowded between Helsinki and Kerava and therefore it is run with longer trains. Two Z trains departure from Kouvola in the morning and return there in the evening rush hour. It is run with electric locomotive and commuter cars. Also the last Z train on the evening continues to Kouvola.
Train P ran from Helsinki to Hiekkaharju, stopping at every station. The service was started in 1972 and stopped in August 2004. The letter P was reintroduced in 2015 as a clockwise Ring Rail train.
Train G ran from Helsinki to Saunakallio. It ran six times a day in both directions and it was the only train with letter designation on the Helsinki–Riihimäki route that did not stop at Tikkurila. The service was started on 4 June 2007. It was discontinued in 2011 in order to improve management of traffic and timetable keeping on the Main Line especially during winter conditions. It used to stop at Helsinki, Pasila, Kyrölä, Järvenpää and Saunakallio.
Train M ran from Helsinki to Vantaankoski. It ran once every 10–30 minutes and stopped at every station. The service ran continuously between 1975, when the track to Martinlaakso was completed, and 2015, when the Vantaankoski Line was continued by the Ring Rail Line. In 1991, the line was continued one stop further to Vantaankoski. The letter M stood for Martinlaakso, though the M train was substituted in 2015 with the P train, to avoid confusion with the Helsinki Metro.
Train S ran from Helsinki to Kirkkonummi. It ran hourly in each direction. Of the two daytime trains running between Helsinki and Kirkkonummi, the S trains were faster. Between Helsinki and Leppävaara, S services stopped at Pasila and Huopalahti. Between Leppävaara and Kauklahti, it stops at every station. Between Kauklahti and Kirkkonummi, it stops only at Masala. From 28 May 1972 to 25 May 1974, the S trains were running between Helsinki and Kauniainen. The route was continued to Kirkkonummi on 27 September 1987. The S trains discontinued in March 2016 when two U-line-only stops were closed and the U line now runs twice an hour.
Train H ran from Helsinki to Riihimäki. It ran once in an hour. The service stopped between Helsinki and Kerava at Pasila and Tikkurila and between Kerava and Riihimäki at every station. Letter H is an original designation from 1972. Before 1990–98 H train had stops at Monni, Palopuro, Takoja, Huikko, Ristinummi and Kytömaa. These stops were cut because of low passenger numbers and H train was disturbing other traffic by being too slow. Stops were discontinued and structures completely dismantled between 1990–98. In March 2016 the Purola and Nuppulinna stations were closed and the H trains were replaced with the R train that now has two additional stops and double the frequency.
Lengths of the lines
- Helsinki–Riihimäki 71 km (44 mi) (54 min)
- Helsinki–Lahti 104 km (65 mi) (60 min)
- Helsinki–Kerava 29 km (18 mi) (23 min)
- Helsinki–Tikkurila 16 km (10 mi) (14 min)
- Helsinki–Karis 87 km (54 mi) (1 h 7 min)
- Helsinki–Kirkkonummi 38 km (24 mi) (30 min)
- Helsinki–Kauklahti 24 km (15 mi) (29 min)
- Helsinki–Leppävaara 11 km (7 mi) (12 min)
- Helsinki–Vantaankoski 15 km (9 mi) (22 min)
- Vantaankoski–Hiekkaharju 18 km (11 mi) (26 min)
Schematic of the lines
Starting in July 2017, all commuter train services will be operated on Sm5 FLIRT trains. The outgoing Sm2- and Sm4-trains will be repurposed for long distance travel by VR. totaling 81 units starting on 1 September 2017.
Electric multiple units:
- Sm1, 50 units delivered in 1969–73 (Valmet/Strömberg), now phased out by Sm5 fleet
- Sm2, 50 units delivered in 1975–81 (Valmet/Strömberg), to be phased out by Sm5 fleet
- Sm4, 30 units delivered in 1999–2005 (Fiat Ferroviaria/CAF/Alstom)
- Sm5, 41 units delivered in 2008–13 (Stadler, model FLIRT). These trains are run by VR but owned by Pääkaupunkiseudun Junakalusto Oy. The first Sm5 unit started commercial operations in November 2009. A total of 81 units have been ordered and the series will replace aging Sm1 and Sm2 units.
- Sr1 (NEVZ) or Sr2 (SLM/ABB) locomotives and Eil/Eilf commuter traffic cars, 57 cars delivered in 1982–87 (so-called "red cars").
Commuter traffic was the last commercial traffic with wooden-bodied cars on Finnish railways. They were retired in the late 1980s when the Eil cars replaced them.
|Rolling stock of the Helsinki commuter rail services|
- junakalusto.fi. "Pääkaupunkiseudun Junakalusto Oy | Lähijunaliikenne". junakalusto.fi (in Finnish). Retrieved 2017-02-20.
- "VR Group Vuosiraportti 2011". VR Group. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
- Herranen, Timo (1988) Från hästomnibussar till metro. Helsingfors stads publikationer nr 39
- "Kari Ruohonen". The Future of AirRail.
also be linked to the City Rail Loop, a 7-km long underground railway line running under the Helsinki city centre. The railway design will begin in 2012 and a decision about its implementation can be made in 2014.
- junakalusto.fi. "Pääkaupunkiseudun Junakalusto Oy | Kalusto". junakalusto.fi (in Finnish). Retrieved 2017-02-20.