A competitive tender will be launched in the spring with the aim of selecting a supplier by the mid-2018. The quantity will be specified in the tender documents and VR Group says it needs “several tens of locomotives.” The winning bidder will also maintain the fleet.

“Investment in new locomotives looks more viable than the alternative of major refurbishment, but the renovation option is being kept open,” says VR Group traffic director Mr Petri Auno.

More than 76% of freight trains are electrically-hauled and diesel haulage of passenger trains is limited to a handful of services. However, VR Group has a long-term requirement for diesel traction, particularly for shunting and trip freight workings.