Finnish VR to be Opened up to Competition
According to Transport and Communications Minister Anne Berner, the state is not giving up ownership of VR despite reports earlier on Thursday suggesting the Minister was working on a privatisation proposal.
Rather, VR’s monopoly on Finnish passenger rail traffic will end during this government’s term, says the Minister.
Transport Minister Anne Berner has denied reports that she is planning to privatise the state railway company VR–but said that she is looking to open up passenger rail services to competition.
Reports in Social Democratic Party newspaper Demokraatti early on Thursday afternoon suggested that Transport and Communications Minister Anne Berner was putting together a proposal to privatise the beleaguered Finnish state railways VR.
Later on Thursday afternoon the Minister issued a statement to clarify the situation.
“Opening up (rail traffic) for competition means that VR is giving up its monopoly and other players can enter the field,” said Berner in a press release.
“This is not about privatising VR; the state is not giving up ownership,” she said.
The ministry’s goal is to set in motion the process for opening up train traffic to competition during spring 2016. Currently, VR has an exclusive agreement on passenger train traffic in Finland through to the end of 2024.
Passenger traffic on VR has been operating at a loss for several consecutive years. It recently announced that it would be closing 28 stations and looking to cut up to 600 jobs.