• Savon Radan ryhmä organizes activities along the historical Savo line

railway future in rural Finland 
is closing stops in small villages the strategy of VR?

towards the future the slogan of VR has to be:

The schedule below is what is left from the public traffic in Haukivuori. 2 Buses on weekdays the year round + 3 school buses during school days.

the new bus schedule after closing the train stop in Haukivuori.
The opposite direction gives on weekdays a connection at 6.45 am and 15.40 pm the year round.
At 8.50, 13.05 and 15.05 are connections during school periods.
No buses in the weekend.

The same slogan as for VR can be used by bus companies.
After closing the train stop at Haukivuori the bus schedule will be reduced to 4 stops a day during school periods .
In school holidays only 2 buses will stop at Haukivuori (there was one more).
This schedule shows the perfect timing for working people.
In the weekends there are no buses available.
With this schedule the city of Mikkeli agrees and they are not interested in any obligation against the decision of VR or to start extra buses to Haukivuori.
As an officer of the municipality of Mikkeli so aptly put in: "It is your choice to live in the countryside".
Finally people living in the countryside are second-class citizens.

It seems that the same policy as in the 60-ties takes place. To show that there are too few people in the bus/train they create a schedule that is not useful for working people.

With 15 000 passengers a year (in a village with 2500 citizens) it is not possible to continue the train stop.

Following the opening of the first railway line in 1862 further lines were built, being constructed on the relative needs of industrial growth, populations, the interests of the Russian empire also being a guiding factor. The construction of early lines was primarily state controlled and financed. (source Wikipedia)

After a long period of intensifying the public traffic by rail the national rail company started in the 60-ties to change the train schedule of the regional train buses Lättähattu in a way that the stops were not longer useful for people going to school and work. Result (of course " a surprise" for the railway company) was a decrease of the number of passengers. That result made it easy to start with closing different small stops in the country side. This all happened in a time the railway company was completely state owned.

Rural regions are depending on good transport, especially good public transport.
The Savo-rail is 'born' in 1889 and has been an important factor in the development of the rural regions along this track.
The rail company VR is selling the "emperor's new cloths" by focusing on high speed trains only.
They forget the logistic important factor that to get people at the begin and end of a line you have to collect them from the places between it.
Maybe a wrong education route is popular in this management field.
How clever this management is, their arguments to close stops between between begin and end cities are ridiculous:
- too less passengers - 15 000 a year
- the lights on the stations are too expensive - there are possibilities to regulate the light schedule
- the platform is too low - after 125 years of use
- it takes 3 minutes to stop - new trains are able to accelerate faster, the locomotive change in Kouvola takes at least 10 minutes, it is a great improvement to have a 3 minutes shorter travel time on a 2 hours trip
Finally the arguments of VR are bullshit and show there is a hidden agenda.
The railway company is owned by the Finnish state and tax payers are paying for it, but are not able to use it.

14.4.2014 Short announcement about closing the stop.
15.4.2014 Liisa Pulliainen created the group "Onko Mikkeliin mänijöitä? Haukivuoren junaliikenteen säilyttäminen!" on Facebook.
15.5.2014 Presentation of the plan by VR to the Ministry of Transport and Communication.
     6.2014 Obligation EU commission Brussels by Suomen rautatiematkustajat ry
  4.6.2014 Ministry of Transport and Communication agrees with the plans of VR regarding closing the stop at Haukivuori.
16.6.2014 Obligation to the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland
17.6.2014 VR:n aikomus lopettaa pysähdykset Haukivuorella


drawing by Marjaana Valve about the closing of Haukivuori railway station.
image Marjaana Valve Os Leppänen

On Saturday May 3rd the whole village of Haukivuori has taken action in the imminent closing of the stop in Haukivuori. It is unbelievable that after 125 years this stop has to be ended to get a speed reduce of 3 minutes between Kouvola and Kuopio under the head of more service to the customer. In the view of VR officials over 12 000 people are no longer customer.
Once the center of the village has been replaced from kirkonkylä to asema because of the railway and behind their desks officials. without any historical awareness are destroying the connection with the past. Only to create an airplane on rails from Kouvola to Kuopio, which competition they will certainly loose.

action in Haukivuori - keep the station open action in Haukivuori - keep the station open Green Party EU parliament member Tarja Cronberg attending the protest
image© 2014-Eva Häkkinen
image© 2014-Eva Häkkinen
image© 2014-Eva Häkkinen

The railway square was full of people to show their involvement with the protest against closing the stop in Haukivuori. The planned time savings of 3 minutes are absolute irrelevant related to the distance and the fact that just before this stop train has to reduce speed because of a huge curve, which cannot be changed.

protest closing Haukivuori railway station action in Haukivuori - keep the station open
image©2014-Eva Häkkinen
image© 2014-Eva Häkkinen
Marja de Jong offered Green Party EU parliament member Tarja Cronberg the proof of child art postcard about the Savo-Rail. Marja de Jong offered Green Party EU parliament member Tarja Cronberg the proof of child art postcard about the Savo-Rail.
image©2014-Eva Häkkinen
image©2014-Eva Häkkinen

Green Party EU-parliament member Tarja Cronberg accepted the first prints of the child art  postcard about the Savo-Rail. In the context of SAVON-RATA 125 vuotta SAVON-RADAN ryhmä is planning to publish a series of the postcard. Children of the schools in Haukivuori and Hiirola are involved in this project.

The Haukivuoren Aluejohtokunta has sent their objections to the governmental officials by the following letter:


Haukivuoren aluejohtokunta on kokouksessaan 17.4.2014 yksimielisesti hyväksynyt Mikkelin kaupungin hallitukselle, VR-konsernin johtoryhmälle ja hallintoneuvostolle sekä liikenneministerille ja liikenneministeriölle lähetettävät kannanotot koskien VR:n suunnitelmaa lakkauttaa junien pysähtyminen Haukivuorella 11.8.2014 alkaen.

Kannanottojen yhdistelmä ja esitykset/vetoomukset alla:


Aluejohtokunta pitää VR:n suunnitelmaa Haukivuorella asuvien tai sinne matkustavien ihmisten liikkumismahdollisuuksia merkittävästi rajoittavana, kansalaisia epätasa-arvoisesti kohtelevana sekä koko maaseutumaisen Mikkelin vetovoimaisuutta ja tavoitettavuutta oleellisesti heikentävänä hankkeena. Lisäksi se aiheuttaa verovaroin tuetun julkisen liikenteen täysin tarpeetonta ja päällekkäistä lisäämistä. Suunnitelma on myös liikenne- ja viestintäministeriön ja VR 3.7.2013 tekemän vuoden 2024 loppuun saakka voimassa olevan yksinoikeussopimuksen jatkosopimuksen vastainen.

Edellä olevaan perustuen Haukivuoren aluejohtokunta yksimielisesti esittää, että Mikkelin kaupungin hallitus ja valtuusto hyväksyy yksimielisesti kannanoton, jossa VR:n aikeista lopettaa junien pysähtyminen Haukivuorella 11.8.2014 tulee luopua ja, että kannanotto saatetaan huhtikuun aikana liikenneministeriön ja VR:n johdon sekä eduskunnan poliittisten ryhmien tietoon.

vetoaa, että VR luopuu suunnitelmastaan lopettaa junien pysähtyminen Haukivuorella 11.8.2014 alkaen.

vetoaa, että liikenneministeri ja liikenneministeriö estävät VR-yhtymää toteuttamasta suunnitelmaansa lopettaa junien pysähtyminen Haukivuorella 11.8.2014 alkaen.

Haukivuoren aluejohtokunta

The complete paper can be read in the attached PDF file HAUKIVUOREN ALUEJOHTOKUNNAN TIEDOTE 22.4.2014

The petition to support this letter has to be signed by all who are involved in the future of this village.
On different places in the villages citizens were able to sign the petition, which was done by many persons in Haukivuori.
In total over 1500 people has signed the petitions on the internet as well as on paper.
If it means something to the management of VR and to the authorities involved in this case is now clear.
It means nothing even not that 15 000 passengers in a village of 2 500 citizens are using this train.
At least every citizen in Haukivuori is using the train 6x a year, it is far not enough in the eyes of VR.

other related articles in the news papers: by Petri P. Pentikäinen by Sakari Kestinen by Katja Boxberg

blogs and other sources:
1989 Savon radan varren kunnat selvittävät radan oikaisua
2008 Savon rata vaatii koko Itä-Suomen yhteistyötä
2012 Press release about Finland’s transport policy lines for the future set out
2013 Mikael Aro asiakasta on kuunneltava entistä herkemmin

In the 19th century the railway strategy was clear. The new way of transport will connect as much places in the country with each other and a huge net of railways has been the result. Finally over 800 railway stations were opened along all these tracks. Now a days at only 80 stations trains are stopping.
The development of a good road network and the increasing of private cars has influenced the participation of travelers.
The increasing of the speed of the trains has influenced the distance between the different stops. In the beginning the stops were around each 5 kilometer. Today a stop is like a waist of time and the train has to 'fly' over the track and keep the potential passengers out of their right of public transport.
It is intriguing that the attitude of  'professionals' at the decision level has a lack of understanding in the logistic process of their passengers. In their opinion it is so simple; when there are too less passengers take off the train, the connection or close the stop even they have experiences for years that through this the number of passengers decreases even more.

The policy of VR seems to be to make it difficult for others to share the same infrastructure as they are taken out the rails which are not longer in use by closing stops and decreasing the number of trains.

Maybe they can start to think in the opposite way,
- increase the stops,
- increase the number of trains and their frequency,
- extend the period of the day schedule,
- develop new ways of public rail transport.
SHORTLY: offer more transport facilities to get more passengers.

An interesting link to an article "how high speed trains are killing the European railway network" is an eye-opener and interesting for those decision makers who have to take in account that speed is not the main element in public transport.

The change to 'market, privatization and cost effective' economy is another item and this has closed the mind of policy makers for the dismantling of a cohesive and engaged Finnish society. Public services are the victims of this non-social behavior.

In the press release "Finland’s transport policy lines for the future set out" of 12.4.2014 the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications informed about the planned strategy for transport.

"Investments to be made - rail transport in focus

Focus of transport funding will be shifted from new investment to maintenance of the existing transport network. Smooth everyday mobility of people is particularly important. At its discussion on spending limits on 22 March 2012, the Government agreed which transport investment projects are to be launched during this term of office. It made a historic decision in allocating more funding to rail projects than to roads. In an effort to improve punctuality of trains, ground frost damage will be repaired on all sections of the rail network, and the capacity of the main rail line will be raised in the south of Finland. These measures will have a positive impact on the punctuality of train services in all parts of the country. "

PDF file with the press release of 12.4.2012

In 2014 it seems VR is focusing on 'punctuality' as they are planning to close some small stops to win 3 minutes on a journey of 1.43 at the line Kouvola-Pieksämäki. In VR-leaks is written that the whole suggestion of more efficiency is fake.

PDF file with the VR-leaks report

The result of this immense deduction of the journey has more impact on the development of rural regions as any official behind their desk can imagine. Focusing on high speed and as less stops as possible will finally kill this transport.
One of the tasks of public transport is to connect different places with each other and to guarantee that people in even isolated regions are able to have a social life. As the national government is concentrating public services in cities and reducing the services in small villages public transport is often the only way to be able to use these services.

It would show the involvement of the regional and national government when an innovative vision on this matter would be developed.
Is it is not possible to invest in a commuter train along the closed railway stations?
Is it not possible to use the track in different ways than it is traditional?
Closing the last stops along a long distance line is the end of the national policy of living rural communities.

An interesting article by Kris de Decker in LOW-TECH MAGAZINE about the way how high speed trains are killing the European railway network.

"Yield-management pricing style

Not only Italian rail operators, but for example also Finnish rail operators have introduced these pricing mechanisms. It indeed increased the income of the train company, but of course at the expense of the customers. The promotional fares induce demand, while regular passengers see their costs increased. It is a pricing system that does not belong in public transportation.

By the way, even without yield management high speed trains would have considerably higher ticket fares than low speed trains (because building and operational costs are higher)"

Kris De Decker

"Airlines and cars compete with trains, but the railways themselves have decided to kill their own products. They could as well have decided to invest the money in lower fares and more comfortable trains -- so that people could sleep better -- instead of in building a whole new high speed rail network. Just imagine how the low speed network would look if it would have received all the money that is being invested in high speed rail."

Kris De Decker

 map of the Finnish railway in 1905

Old map the Finnish railway in 1905 concerning.


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