Enthusiast

The Grand Finland Circular Railtour

5 to 14 July
Finland, Scandinavia

Welcome to PTGs second exploration of the railways of Finland, designed to (almost) finish off those freight lines not covered by recent tours. The tour will start in Finland’s third city, Tampere, and run along the south coast before following the Russian border north almost to the Arctic Circle. Now we will head west to the Gulf of Bothnia, making a day excursion northwards (hopefully entering Sweden briefly) before returning to Tampere down the west coast. Truly a Grand Finland Circular! Motive power will be provided by the Haapamäki Museum Locomotive Society, possibly with Finnish Railways locomotives featuring on branches with axle loading restrictions. Expect lots of trees and lakes along with almost continuous daylight as we get further north, as well as some very attractive Finnish towns such as Savonlinna with its famous castle.

The following itinerary has been agreed in principle by our Finnish operator but is subject to final confirmation and pricing. Please note that new regulations for sites with hazardous chemicals may mean some branches are not available, but these will only be identified during the detailed planning stage.

Highlights

  • Private train with restaurant car
  • Diesel locomotive hauled (except for a few hours) throughout
  • Numerous freight lines
  • Good quality hotels
  • See the scenery of many different areas of Finland

Tour Manager: Paul G

Updated 09/10/2018

Itinerary

Day 1 Friday 5 July Flights from several UK airports to Helsinki for train connections to Tampere where we may be staying at a hotel built around the former locomotive roundhouse.

Day 2 Saturday 6 July (B) Tampere to Kouvola. We join our comfortable train with restaurant car and friendly English speaking Finnish crew with motive power probably being Dr12 2212 or Dr13 2343.  Our route takes us south through Toijala, with its railway museum, towards Helsinki, but our first objective is the recently opened Riihimäki avoiding line to join the former main line to the east of Finland and reach Lahti. Our 2016 tour did not have time to visit the short branch to Mukkula, so we visit it now before making for Kouvola which will be our base for the night. But before that we will try and cover all the curves and freight lines in the Kouvola and Kotka area, including Kuusankoski (maybe even to Voikaa) and the private branch to Hamina.

Day 3 Sunday 7 July (B) Kouvola to Varkaus. Today we head north-east along a ridge of glacially deposited material to Lappeenranta to visit the short branches to Suolahti and Mustolan satama, where we hope to reach sidings by the Saimaa canal. Continuing towards Imatra there are industrial branches to Kaukas and Joutseno which we will request. There is also an industrial branch at Imatra as well as the line to Imatrankoski which continues across the border into Russia. We will see how close we can get to the border without being shot at. Parikkala is the junction station for the line to Savonlinna, now a branch since the connection north of Savonlinna was severed by a new road. We will go as far as we can towards this point. Accommodation in Savonlinna is at a premium during our visit due to the Opera Festival, so if we have time we will arrange a cruise to see the famous castle before travelling by coach (available to all passengers) to Varkaus.

Day 4 Monday 8 July (B) Varkaus to Joensuu Today we board a class Dm7 DMU in which we will travel the branch to Kommila before going the short distance to Huutokoski and travelling as far as we can towards Savonlinna – probably Rantasalmi. From here a coach will take us to either Savonlinna or Parikkala to continue in our charter train to Sakaniemi where we reverse to take the line to Niirala, which is another one which goes over the Russian frontier. The day will end in Joensuu, but not before we visit the short docks branch south of the station.

Day 5 Tuesday 9 July (B) Joensuu to Kajaani. A longish day with a lot of freight line and we set off north towards Nurmes. This service is one of those threatened with closure, so this is a good line to visit especially since the northern part runs close to attractive Lake Mönninselkä. We may need a VR loco to get us up the 5km branch to Pankakoski. Nurmes is the end of the passenger service, but we continue along the freight line to Kontiomäki and swing east onto our final freight line to Russia – the long line to Vartius. To end the day we return to Kontiomäki and travel on to the major town of the area, Kajaani, for our overnight stop. The area around Kajaani is considered very beautiful, whilst Kajaani itself has Kajaani Castle, which was begun in 1604, and the Ämmäkoski Tar Boat Canal, the only still-functioning tar boat channel in the world, originally constructed in the 1840s.

Day 6 Wednesday 10 July (B) Kajaani to Oulu. South of Kajaani is the long branch to Otanmäki where Transtech make double deck rolling stock for railways around the world. A previous tour could not travel the line due to sleeper movement caused by saturated ground conditions, but that should not be a problem in mid-summer. This is another lightweight branch that may require a VR locomotive. Our tour now proceeds along passenger track from Kajaani to Oulu. There are several industrial branches in Oulu and the day ends with us travelling over those that are available.  A footbridge gives good views over the loco depot, but alternatively visit the local market at Kauppahalli or the Cathedral.

Day 7 Thursday 11 July (B) Day trip to Tornio. Today we have an out and back trip northwards to within 80 km of the Arctic circle. At Kemi we visit the Ajos and Pajusaari branches then continue to Tornio where we will do all three sides of the triangle, and request permission to visit the branch to the massive steel and chrome works  at Röyttä. Tornio’s twin town is Haparanda, in Sweden on the other side of the Tornio river. We hope to take the Finnish gauge tracks over the bridge into Haparanda but there are bureaucratic difficulties with this which have to be overcome. Our train now returns to Oulu for a second night,

Day 8 Friday 12 July (B) Oulu to Vaasa. A lot of kilometres to do today, but the railway is fast with long double track sections, so good progress should be made. We are aiming for Pannainen where a branch goes to the paper mill at Alholma. On returning a new curve should have been opened to allow trains to avoid reversal at Pannainen, and we will take this and head south to Seinäjoki where we reverse and take the passenger line to the port city of Vaasa, continuing past the station for a further three kilometres to the harbour on the island of Vaskiluoto. Vaasa will be our overnight stay and hopefully a pleasant one as the city is the sunniest place in Finland and jumping off point for the Kvarken Archipelago. The number one tourist attraction is reputed to the Bock’s Corner Brewery however.

Day 9 Saturday 13 July (B) Vaasa to Jyväskylä. The final day and a fast run through Seinäjoki then down the northern main line to Parkano where we take the long branch west to Niinisalo, used by occasional military trains. This is a lightweight line, so we may have a VR loco on the branch. After passing through Tampere station we will head for Jyväskylä but at Jämsä take the branch to Kaipola and the yard before the enormous paper mill.

The tour will end in Jyväskylä to facilitate getting the loco and stock back to Haapamäki, so we hope you will have enjoyed a Grand Finland Circular, plus a bit extra!

Day 10 Sunday 14 July (B) Our homeward journey is by service train to Helsinki and the airport line for flights back to the UK.

Flights

AY1332 10.20 London Heathrow to Helsinki
AY1341 17.00 Helsinki to London Heathrow

DY367 09.50 London Gatwick to Helsinki
DY370 17.05 Helsinki to London Gatwick

AY1362 10.25 Manchester to Helsinki
AY1365 16.05 Helsinki to Manchester

Hotels

Hotels are to be confirmed but will generally be Scandic hotels of three or four star standard including breakfast.

Place(s) available

Hotel Prices Reduced!

Holiday Prices (per person) 

  • Special train only: £210 a day or £1,600 for the full 8 days
  • 9 night hotel and transfers package (double/twin): £550
  • 9 night hotel package (single): £775
  • Flights and transfers: from £180

Deposit

  • Travelling by air: £600
  • Own travel: £300
  • Train only: £150

Price includes

  • All travel as outlined in the itinerary
  • Good quality en-suite accommodation with breakfast (not if train only)
  • Services of our tour manager. Holiday is fully escorted.
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