HELSINKI, March 25 (Reuters) – Finland’s national rail operator said on Friday it would suspend services between Helsinki and St Petersburg in Russia on Monday, shutting down the rail link between Russia and the European Union.
VR, the operator, said the Finnish state told it it was no longer appropriate to operate the service, known as Allegro, in light of sanctions imposed on Russia after its invasion from Ukraine.
“We are therefore suspending traffic for the time being,” Topi Simola, VR’s passenger traffic manager, said in a statement.
Russian Railways said in a brief statement that they were aware of the Finnish decision due to the sanctions.
Trains from Russia to Helsinki, the Finnish capital, have been full of Russians in recent weeks, some have used it to leave the country urgently and mutual airspace closures have interrupted air links between Russia and the EU.
The border between Finland and Russia remains open to crossings by private car.
Russia has canceled its passenger train lines to EU countries in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, including the Leo Tolstoy, a Russian train that ran from Moscow to Helsinki via St Petersburg.
The Finnish Allegro train was one of the last rail connections between Russia and the EU.
Russian trains still shuttle via Lithuania between Moscow and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. But since February 28, they have not allowed Russian passengers to embark or disembark in Lithuania.
Tytti Tuppurainen, Finland’s minister for state holdings, told Reuters that one of the reasons for maintaining the Allegro train service so far was to allow Finns in Russia to return home.
“Now it is evident that the situation has changed for the Allegro and the continuation of Allegro traffic is no longer appropriate from the perspective of the state owner,” she wrote in a statement sent by mail. electronic.
(Reporting by Anne Kauranen; Editing by Toby Chopra and Edmund Blair)