Southern Finland by Private Train
Starting and ending in Helsinki, we travel by rail to Turku on the west coast then across the country via Tampere to Joensuu near the Russian border, and through Kouvola on the south coast back to Helsinki.
This will be PTG’s first foray into Finland, the Land of Woods and Lakes, and the itinerary will take us to many sites of great railway interest as well as some rarely visited freight lines and a narrow gauge line. We hope to visit VRs Hyvinkää Works as well as several busy depots (not all of which appear in the Itinerary below as they depend on local arrangement) and the Steam Park at Haapamäki. One day, possibly two, will feature a Hr1 steam locomotive, but the main tour locomotives will be ex VR diesels Dr12 2216 and Dr13 2343 with classes Dv12, Dv15 and Dv16 also appearing. For the diesel enthusiast this tour offers a considerable mileage over lines which have not seen regular diesel hauled services for many years. We hope to give a lunch option each day, either a packed lunch or a hot meal delivered to the train.
Hyvinkaa Works (main loco and unit repair centre for VR) is to close in 2018. So our visit (TBC) may be one of the last, if not THE last chances to visit.
We are pleased to say that we have reached the 32 people that we need in order to give the “go” to this tour. The tour can now run using the booked diesel locos – we need a further 6 bookings before we can confirm that the steam loco will be used on 8 July.
Tour Manager: Paul G
Day 1 Saturday 1st July We arrive at Helsinki on flights from several UK airports and there is the opportunity to see the city or travel on some of the tram lines after checking into our city centre hotel.
Day 2 Sunday 2nd July (B) We start from one of Helsinki’s most recognizable attractions – the Central Railway Station with its four granite guards at the main entrance. Operating issues make use of locomotive and stock difficult for the first part of the day, so we will use a heritage class DM7 DMU. Leaving Helsinki we will pass through Ilmala freight yard then leave the main line at Kerava for a visit to the heritage line to the attractive little town of Porvoo and the freight branch to Sköldvik. From here we proceed directly to Lahti and transfer to our locomotive hauled train. A decision as whether this is steam or diesel hauled by Dv12 had yet to be made as we went to print. The train will visit the threatened branch to Heinola, and the long branch to Loviisan Satama, a port specialising in export of forest products. A long day ends with our arrival at Hyvinkää, a name rich with Finnish railway history. It is only a short distance to our hotel.
Day 3 Monday 3rd July (B) We hope to start the day with a visit to Hyvinkää Works where heavy maintenance and overhauls of VR rolling stock are undertaken. If we can take our special train into the site, then we will do so. The Finnish National Railway Museum is also in Hyvinkää and we will be visited if the works visit falls through. We now take the freight line to Karjaa, continuing on the passenger line to the port of Hanko where we hope to travel beyond the station towards the tip of the peninsula. No we go back to the junction station of Karjaa to reverse before a fast run to Turku where we have time to do two of the shorter local freight lines (Vieheriäinen and Naantalin) before returning to Turku for our overnight stay. A visit to the harbour and the two old sailing ships is strongly recommended.
Day 4 Tuesday 4th July (B) Today our main motive power, diesel locos Dr12-2216 and Dr13-2343, take over the train. Leaving Turku we travel the long freight line to Uusikaupunki and continue across the causeway to the fertiliser plant on the island of Hangonsaari. Back at Turku we travel northeast to reach Humppila where we leave our train and board a charter train on the 750mm gauge railway to Jokioinen. Continuing north east we reach the Helsinki to Tampere main line at Toijala, where there is a small museum which we can visit before making a quick journey up the freight branch to Valkeakoski. Our day ends at the cosmopolitan city of Tampere, before which we pass through the freight yard at Viinikka where many locos can be seen. Tampere will be our base for two nights and the cathedral is well worth a visit.
Day 5 Wednesday 5th July (B) An easy day as we travel the passenger branch to Pori, continuing up the peninsula over a series of bridges to reach Tahkoluoto, which is part of the Port of Pori on the Gulf of Bothnia. We will probably pause in Pori for lunch before continuing to the junction station of Kokemaki where we take the freight line to Rauma before returning to Tampere.
Day 6 Thursday 6th July (B) The day starts with a reversal at Tampere Viinikka Yard so we can do the Tampere avoiding line. Our destination is Haapamäki, where our two locos are based. We will travel over the Vilppula to Mänttä freight branch with classes Dv15 and Dv16, also from the locomotive museum. Back at Haapamäki we will visit the Steam Park, where long lines of steam locomotives are awaiting restoration and there will be an option for lunch here in the restaurant. Our route is east now through Jyväskylä to reach Pieksämäki and our overnight stop.
Day 7 Friday 7th July (B) Pieksämäki is an important railway centre with a depot, wagon works and extensive yards. We will ask to pass through the yards as we head north, pass through Kuopio and take the long freight line to Viinijärvi. En-route we will visit the short branch to Vuonos. At Joensuu we have a depot visit planned, but this is not a short walk so we will ask if our train can go into the depot. We will spend the night in Joensuu and suggest you take a walk over the bridge from the station, crossing the Pielisjoki rapids, to reach the town centre with its unusual town hall.
Day 8 Saturday 8th July (B) Today we take the long freight line to Ilomantsi, most of which is now threatened following the ending of traffic from the wood pellet factory. Our main tour locos are too heavy for this branch, so we have to use a VR class Dv12 instead. With our Dr12 and Dr13 in charge again, for the last time on the journey, we should make good time to Pieksämäki, where we take the freight only curve that leads into the Yard. Here we will re-engine to the Hr1 ‘Pacific’ steam engine that will take us south to Kouvola. On the way we pause to travel the freight branch from Mäntyharju to Ristiina. At the end of a long day we end the tour in Kouvola and spend the night here rather than risk not making the last service train to Helsinki.
Day 9 Sunday 9th July (B) We take the service train from Kouvola to Helsinki, an 80 minute journey with either Sr1 or Sr2 electric loco and arriving in Helsinki before 11 o’clock. There may be time for more sightseeing and tram riding before heading by train to the airport, where, if you have planned it well, you should complete the new airport loop, opened in 2016.
Your Tour Manager for this trip is Paul Griffin.