VR is the incumbent operator and will continue to offer complete services on the Ring Rail Line, the Helsinki - Siuntio line, and the mainline to Kerava. The services equate to seven million train-km and more than 70 million journeys per year.

The contract will commence on June 27 2021 and also includes maintenance of the HSL fleet, which consists of 81 Stadler Flirt EMUs leased from Metropolitan Railway Equipment, a holding company jointly owned by the cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen. VR Transpoint will continue to maintain the trains at the Llmala depot in Helsinki.

The contract is worth €36 per year and includes an option for a three-year extension. HSL says floating the tender has helped to reduce the cost of some tasks by as much as 40% compared with 2015. The total savings are worth €275m over the course of the 10-year contract, or around 24% less than previously. HSL says the new agreement offers significant efficiency measures and will help to facilitate price reductions for passengers.

“This is especially important for us now because of the financial distress caused by the coronavirus is set to put a heavy strain on our economy for years to come,” says Ms Suvi Rihtniemi, CEO of HSL.

VR Group overcame a rival bid from Go-Ahead for the contract, which was rejected for violating the rules of the tender although HSL says VR’s bid was better in terms of both quality and price.

“We are really pleased with the outcome of the tender and the fact that we are able to continue to operate and maintain HSL commuter trains,” says Mr Rolf Jansson, CEO of VR Group. “We are committed to further developing the service together with HSL. The victory also means that we have proven our place as a competitive European railway operator and we will certainly continue to grow through tenders.”