October 2017 - BLNI Extra 32 – The PTG tour of Finland, July 2017
[C80] The PTG tour of Finland - July 2017
The PTG railtour around Southern Finland in July 2017 was your correspondent’s thirteenth with
PTG since his first one to Argentina in 2007. The broad outline of the Finland tour involved:
Sunday 2 July Helsinki - Kerava - Sköldvik - Porvoo - Lahti - Heinola - Lahti – Loviisa - Lahti -
Riihimäki - Hyvinkää
Monday 3 July Hyvinkää - Karjaa - Hanko - Karjaa - Turku
Tuesday 4 July Turku - Uusikaupunki - Turku - (Jokioinen Heritage Railway) - Tampere
Wednesday 5 July Tampere - Pori - Kokemäki - Rauma - Tampere
Thursday 6 July Tampere - Haapamäki - Pieksämäki
Friday 7 July Pieksämäki - Kuopio - Viinijärvi - Joensuu
Saturday 8 July Joensuu - Ilomantsi - Joensuu - Pieksämäki – Kouvola (End of Charter Tour)
Sunday 9 July Kouvola - Helsinki Airport
In addition to the above basic routings, there were several detours onto stubs of active freight-only
The PTG tour was your correspondent’s third visit to Finland, the previous two being made with the
aid of his residual post-retirement FIP coupons. In July 1993, your correspondent made a mega-
Nordic trip with a fellow-retiree: Stockholm – Helsinki – Narvik – Oslo – Stockholm. Just two days
were spent in Finland, involving an overnight stop in Lieksa on the East Main Line and the sleeper
from Tampere to Kemijärvi, before heading into Sweden via the Tornio/Haparanda crossing. North
of Lieksa, the Nurmes to Kontiomäki section no longer has a passenger service.
A year later your correspondent was back again, this time as a trio, spending eight sun-drenched
days in Finland. A particular memory involved a cab ride in an Sr1 electric loco, south of Oulu.
Despite being at 64º North, the 35-year-old driver (totally fluent in English) was wearing a T-shirt
and shorts, operating the vigilance treadle with bare feet! However, he did put on trousers and
shoes before alighting at his change-over point. On an unfortunate aspect, he had already
experienced four suicides.
This year there were various options on offer to reach Helsinki, your correspondent’s choice
involving Finnair flights from/to Heathrow. The outward flight had an unexpected bonus of being in
a wide-body Airbus A350, the most luxurious aircraft your correspondent has ever experienced.
Eight other PTG participants were also aboard, being met at Helsinki Airport by the tour leader, Paul
Griffin, and also Allan Scotson. The latter, who would be with us throughout the tour, is a full-time
Finland resident, extensively involved in the domestic and itinerary planning of the tour. The group
headed en masse to catch a Helsinki-bound train on the Ring Line, opened in 2015. The descent to
the cavern of Lentoasema Station was reminiscent of Metro travel in Kiev and St Petersburg. The
group headed into Helsinki anti-clockwise, the residual Ring Line leg being the ultimate train journey
of the visit.
The Holiday Inn is adjacent to the main station. A very dull grey evening did not tempt your
correspondent to make any tram explorations, instead opting for a meal at a local restaurant, away
from the tourist area. A brief post-dinner visit to the station yielded his first sighting of the large-
profile Allegro Pendolino sets, which operate the St Petersburg service (four daily services each
way). Additionally, there is an overnight sleeper service to/from Moscow. No bogie-changing is
needed for these international services, Finland and Russia sharing virtually the same five-foot
Sunday 2 July - Helsinki to Hyvinkää
Not much walking was involved to reach the platforms of Helsinki Central Station. Nor was there
much activity there early on a Sunday morning.
The west side of Helsinki Central Station from the group hotel
The station has nineteen platforms in total, the main block (Platforms 4-11) being flanked by
Platforms 1-3 and 12-19, which terminate roughly 150 metres from the main buffer stops. Platforms
12-19 are used by suburban services on the Coastal Line, with those on the North Line using
Platforms 1-4. The main central block of platforms is relatively sparsely used. In a typical weekday
hourly-cycle, only eight trains depart from Platforms 4-11, against thirty from the flanking outer
platforms. Not only do commuters have a longer access walk, but their platforms are exposed to the
elements. In 2000, a roof was installed over the central platforms, but only as far as the buffer line
of the outer platforms.
Although the Helsinki rail network is quite modest, it has an intensive service structure, supported
by a high-capacity infrastructure. Electrification of the network started in 1969. At Pasila, three
kilometres north of Helsinki Central, the Coastal Line to Turku diverges westward. Until 1975, just
the Tampere-bound Main and the Coastal Lines existed. Then a branch was opened from Huopalahti
on the Coastal Line to Martinlaakso, subsequently extended to Vantaankoski in 1991. In 2015, this
branch was extended, partially in tunnel under Helsinki Airport, to join the Main Line at Hiekkaharju.
This created the Ring Line, with a ten-minute weekday frequency in each direction. On both the
Coastal and Main Lines, there is a tiered structure of local services. Quadrupling has been steadily
progressed, currently reaching Leppävaara, 11 kms on the Coastal Line, and Kerava, 29 kms on the
Although the PTG train had not yet appeared, many familiar faces were gathering on the platform.
Soon, a pair of diminutive (by Finnish standards) Dm7 railcars arrived, to form the first train of the
tour. These railcars, dating back to the late-1950’s and long-withdrawn from normal service, are
owned by the Porvoo Museum Railway. On seven summer Saturdays and a pre-Christmas Saturday,
there is a solitary out-and-back service from Helsinki to the tourist hot-spot at Porvoo.
The first part of the tour used a pair of elderly Dm7 railcars, seen here at Helsinki Central Station
Soon after leaving Helsinki Central, the tour leader distributed an eighteen-page hand-out, a key
source for briefing information and the compilation of this report.
Leaving Central station, there are five pairs of tracks as far as Pasila – Coastal Local/Coastal
Fast/ECS/Main Fast/Main Local. What a luxury in contrast to the overwhelmed infrastructure in
major British cities! All internal passenger services, including InterCity and Pendolino trains stop at
the multi-platformed Pasila station. Equivalent to all ECML trains stopping at Finsbury Park. Beyond
the station the Coastal Line diverges westward, very briefly alongside the route taken by the PTG
charter, before it veered north into the Imala maintenance complex, inundated on a Sunday with a
wealth of passenger stock – EMUs, coaches and locomotives. These sorties along obscure tracks,
inaccessible by timetabled passenger services, are a sought-out feature of PTG travel.
At the north exit of the depot, the charter was held alongside the Main Line, awaiting a path onto
the fast tracks. As mentioned above, quadruple track on the Main Line exists as far as Kerava, with a
very unusual arrangement – conventional right-hand running on the west-side Fast tracks, but left-
hand running on the east-side Local tracks. This oddity arises as a result of intermediate stations
having island platforms, with better observation visibility at station stops for the driver by having
left-hand running. Prior to the completion of the Ring Line, the Coastal local tracks and the
Vantaankoski branch were converted to a similar scenario in 2013. No major expenditure involved,
since all tracks are bi-directional. The 2015-opened section of the Ring Line follows suit.
Tikkurila, 16 kms from Helsinki, is a reconstructed transport interchange with six platforms - two
island plus outers. Like Pasila, all long-distance trains stop here. A short distance onward, beyond
Hiekkaharju, the Ring Line diverges westward, rising to cross the fast tracks and northbound local.
Approaching Savio, a track trails in on the east side, continuing as an independent line as far as
Kerava. This is the Vuosaari Port Line, opened in November 2008. Prior to this date, Helsinki was
served by two ports south of the main city, each with their own rail access. To replace these ports, a
new one was built at Vuosaari, fourteen kilometres east of Helsinki, releasing land in Helsinki for
residential and business development. Rail access to the new port was provided by a new line,
nineteen kilometres in length, including the 13.5 kms Savio Tunnel. The north portal of this tunnel is
visible from the Main Line. Although mainly being in tunnel, the electrified Vuosaari line was off-
limits for the PTG charter. Passenger usage is not permitted, owing to the absence of any escape
tunnels or ventilation for diesel traction.
Approaching Kerava the PTG-chartered Dm7 railcars weaved across the ladder to gain the
easternmost track, then beyond the station curving away from the Main Line to gain the Porvoo
Branch, opened in 1874. Fifteen kilometres beyond Kerava, at the remote plain junction at Olli, the
charter continued along the straight route towards Sköldvik. This eleven-kilometres freight-only
section was opened in 1919 and is very much the dominant route, serving an industrial complex at
its terminal, electrified throughout from Kerava. At Sköldvik the charter entered the ten-track yard,
in which several lengthy rakes of Russian-owned tank cars were stabled, mainly for propane traffic.
Beyond the yard, but off-limits for the charter, two branches diverged into the industrial complex.
The sidings at Sköldvik
After returning to Olli, the DRCs reversed onto the Porvoo Branch, the points being hand-operated.
A few minutes east of Olli, the group alighted from the charter for a photo-runpast over a bridge
above the Mustijoki (joki = river), a fisherman enhancing the foreground.
The class Dm7 railcars do a runpast at a scenic location on the Porvoo line. The fisherman was probably there for
some peace and quiet, which was soon restored, at least until the charter returned.
After backing-up for reboarding, there was a brief chance to capture the Dm7’s surrounded by
lupins – a backcloth seen many times during the tour. Onward to Porvoo, several modest halts were
passed, which are served by the occasional tourist trains mentioned earlier.
Porvoo station is delightfully situated, but sadly the railway museum is defunct, the local authority
wishing to develop the property. Steam locos no longer occupy the two-track roundhouse.
The old roundhouse at Porvoo
Nowadays most of the exhibits have been moved elsewhere, but a few wagons and small diesel
shunters were resident in the sidings. Track is still in situ beyond the station, albeit often overgrown,
for about 200 metres until the buffer-stop before the road bridge over the Porvoojoki. At one stage
the line continued along the riverbank to a quay. Porvoo was lively with tourists, but the group had
only time for solo whirlwind visits. True to PTG tradition, after reboarding, the charter headed to the
buffer-stop limit before returning westward.
End of the line at Porvoo
Regaining Olli, stops were made either side of the junction to set and reset the points. Both units
were manned. With a noisy engine mounted underneath the centre of the cab, the driver of the
rear unit needed to wear ear muffs.
Before Kerava, the 1.5 kms east-to-north chord was taken, which runs parallel to the Main Line, but
separated by an industrial estate, until converging at a stage where the Lahti Cut-Off starts to
diverge from the Main Line. The 65 kms Lahti Cut-Off, opened in 2006 and designed with a 300 kph
potential, reduced the journey time between Helsinki and Lahti by forty minutes. Its broad
KERAVA Start of Cut-Off
Kytömaa 2.4 kms Divergence, including flyover over Main Line for southbound track
HAARAJOKI 10.7 kms Active station with platform loops and cross-overs
Korvensuo 21.6 kms Cross-overs
MÄNTSÄLÄ 30.3 kms Active station with platform loops and cross-overs
Sipilä 39.8 kms Cross-overs
Henna 50.5 kms Loops with platforms, but no structures. Future station?
Hakosilta 64.8 kms Relay room between the Cut-Off and Riihimäki lines.
The physical flat junctions lie well beyond.
LAHTI 75.5 kms
Although the Pendolinos are permitted to run at 220 kph, as to be experienced on the final day of
the tour, the pair of Dm7’s were only allowed 80 kph, involving a very relaxed schedule. A brief stop
was made at Mäntsälä to detrain a member of staff. Three southbound trains were passed during
the transit of the cut-off; two InterCity trains flanking a long loco-hauled service. Subsequently this
was identified as the 23.10 Moscow to Helsinki, due at 13.30. Looking at the train graphs, all three
were running close to time.
Lahti – compare the sizes of the old and new generation
At Lahti, after an on-time arrival, the group said goodbye to the Dm7’s, confirming their
diminutiveness as they sat alongside a Sm4 EMU, which covers the hourly “Z” service from Helsinki,
serving Haarajoki and Mäntsälä on the Cut-Off, plus Tikkurila and Kerava on the Main Line.
After an on-time arrival with the pair of Dm7 railcars, the group eagerly awaited the next stage of its
travels, with steam haulage for the rest of the day, run by http://hoyryveturimatkat1009.fi/ . The
website has English pages. The next train, hauled by a Class Hr1 Pacific, #1009 built at Tampere in
1948, was late in appearing, eventually leaving nearly twenty minutes late. The freight-only Heinola
and Loviisa branches diverge from the East main line about 1.5 kms east of Lahti Station, heading
north-east and south-east respectively. The 38-kms Heinola line, only completed in 1932, lost its
Dm7-operated passenger service in 1968. The Höyryveturimatkat1009 train included three
passenger coaches, one allocated to the PTG party and the other two conveying a considerable
number of fare-paying punters. Stops were made at Ahtiala and Vierumäki, with a few joiners at the
latter. A high arch bridge over the Jyränkö waterway leads to Heinola rail terminal, equipped with
six loop tracks, three of which appeared to be active.
The run-round move gave a chance to inspect the consist of the Höyryveturimatkat1009 train. Two
four-wheeled wagons (a stores van and an open flat) were followed by six bogie coaches, three of
which were passenger-carrying. All three were alleged to be ex-Helsinki commuter coaches, rebuilt
as a 48-seat open saloon and two 63-seat restaurant/bar coaches. The PTG party was allocated to
the first-mentioned vehicle. The other three vehicles were for staff and supplies use, one including a
Just before leaving Heinola tender-first, a train of bogie vans appeared from a lengthy private spur,
hauled by a pair of Dv12 diesels. Active freight on a Sunday, a rarity for the UK. Heading back to
Lahti, the same two stops were made. After a brief stop to permit leavers at Lahti, the charter
continued westward through the remnants of the freight yard. A triangle on the north side encloses
a former roundhouse. A reversal on the west-north chord, with 2-8-2 Tr1 #1047 stabled alongside,
led to a stub-spur at Salpausselkä, adjacent to an athletics stadium and a trio of ski-jumps.
The apex of the triangle at Salpausselkä
No doubt Eddie the Eagle has demonstrated his expertise at this location. #1009 had some problems
restarting, with some slipping, before taking the north-south chord to regain Lahti station. Still
running tender-first, aside from the short exploration of the Salpausselkä chord, the purpose of the
manoeuvre had been to ensure that the final long leg from Loviisa and westward to Hyvinkää would
be made chimney-first.
The Loviisa branch was originally a 75cm gauge line, opened in 1904. Passenger services finished in
1952, the line being regauged to five-foot in 1960. Passenger services were reinstated from March
1961 until May 1970. Twenty kilometres from Lahti, a stop was made at Orimattila to permit some
locals to board. After a brief stop at Loviisa town station, the end of the 77-kms branch at Loviisa
Harbour was reached 110 minutes from Lahti. Two separate groups of sidings held rakes of wagons
for paper products. Alighting from the train was not permitted during the run-round move.
Regaining the town station, the local fire brigade was awaiting to assist the water stop, and here
passengers could alight.
Pacific 1009 at Loviisa taking on water. The length of the shadows reveal the lateness of the hour
Now running 50 minutes late leaving Loviisa, Orimattila was again a calling-point. Lahti was
becoming a familiar place, your correspondent now being aware of the function of the two island
platforms. Only the outer faces can accommodate full-length trains, the inners being primarily for
terminating EMUs from Helsinki and Riihimäki, with storage sidings at the east end flanked by the
The Pacific had not been in perfect condition throughout the day, resulting in a 62” late departure
from Lahti. Beyond the divergence of the Cut-Off at Hakosilta, the charter was on the original East
Line via Riihimäki, now only served by an hourly all-stations EMU service, plus freight trains.
Occasionally the permitted 80 kph ceiling was reached, but 70 kph was mainly the norm. At one
stage, the charter was overtaken by a pair of light-engine Sr1 electrics, running wrong line, the
driver obviously keen to reach Riihimäki ASAP. Not observed at Riihimäki was a new avoiding chord,
reported in the August 2017 issue of Today’s Railways Europe as opening on 9 June.
Hyvinkää was eventually reached at 22:36, 72” late. Fortunately, pre-ordered buffet dinners were
still available at the nearby hotel, at which the PTG party was booked.
Monday 3 July – Hyvinkää to Turku
On boarding a new charter train, as the charter made a Z-shunt on the main line to access the Karjaa
freight-only line, yesterday’s Höyryveturimatkat1009 train was still stabled in the back platform at
Hyvinkää. The Karjaa line, which heads south-west, unusually diverges from the northern end of the
main platforms. On this day, the train loco was #2549, a member of the ubiquitous Dv12 class,
encountered throughout Finland. Probably equivalent to a Class 31 in the UK, in both its power and
Barely a kilometre away the charter stopped at the platform serving the Finnish Railway Museum,
where the group had nearly two hours to explore its fascinating contents.
2216 is stabled on the turntable outside the railway museum, despite the fact that it is not part of national
collection. This loco would feature later in the tour.
Many steam locomotives were on display in the half-roundhouse, not sufficiently spacious for
photography. Two large exhibition halls were packed with more locos and vintage coaches, alas
under gloomy lighting and closely-spaced. More like Mulhouse than York. Well worth the visit,
despite the limited photographic opportunities.
For the next five-and-a-half days the PTG party would be aboard a four-coach train provided and
staffed by the Haapamäki Locomotive Museum Association (Haapamäki Museoveturiyhdistys ry
http://www.hmvy.fi/wp/ ). Three of the vehicles, dating back to the 1950's, had wooden bodies.
Two of these were occupied by the PTG group, whose participants hovered around forty, a few
opting for selected days. Open Second #22771 was your correspondent’s base. The 1986-
built buffet car was equipped with a generator, providing electricity throughout the formation.
Beyond the buffet-car, a sleeper was provided for the on-board museum staff.
One of the museum’s traincrew, Jussi Mäkinen, is a skilled cartographer, from whom many of us
soon acquired a superb 2017-published map of the Finnish rail network, past and present. Also
added to your correspondent’s archives are detailed maps of the Helsinki vicinity and the Karjaa-
Turku line, plus one devoted to the Haapamäki area.
The 99 kms from Hyvinkää to Karjaa have been freight-only since 1983, an eastbound timber train
being crossed at Lohja (64 kms). Held, as timetabled, at the crossroads with the Helsinki-Turku line
at Karjaa, awaiting the arrival of the single-unit railcar from Hanko, for which a long bay platform is
provided. Tk3 #1170, a 2-8-0, is on display next to the main station building. Hanko lies 49 kms
beyond Karjaa. Beyond Hanko passenger station, the charter slowly proceeded to the VR limit of the
line at a closed gate, beyond which the line to the port is now out-of-use. Now issued with hi-viz
jackets, the PTG party was able to make a quick photo-stop before propelling back to Hanko, where
the loco ran round.
End of the line at Hanko, near the end of the peninsula. This line, the longest of the branches at Hanko, was out of
use and rather overgrown.
En route back to Karjaa, a photo-stop was made at the traditional Tammisaari station. The Hanko-
bound diesel rail car was crossed at the next station, Dragsvik. There was plenty of activity back at
Karjaa, with a freight departing to Hanko immediately after the charter arrived. An eastbound
freight also arrived during the PTG layover, which involved a run-round move, readying for the
onward journey to Turku.
During the 25-minute layover, eastbound and westbound Turku-Helsinki InterCity services crossed,
both with Sr2 locos at the Turku end of the double-deck formation. These machines are based on
the SBB Class 460 “Flying Bricks”, 46 of which were delivered 1996-2003. The Helsinki-Turku service
works on an hourly clock-face frequency. From the Helsinki suburban limit at Kirkkonummi, the line
is single-track, involving crossing moves at the Karjaa and Salo stops. Each way, two of the clock-face
services are worked by Pendolinos, but to the same public timings as the loco-hauled services. So
far, your correspondent has not been able to establish whether the Pendolinos operate in tilt mode
on any section of the route. West of Karjaa there have been major realignments to eliminate
curvature, removing a prime reason for needing Pendolinos. There is a morning eastbound
Pendolino flyer, non-stop between Kupittaa on the edge of Turku and a sister station at Pasila
before Helsinki, together with a corresponding evening westbound. Do these two trains operate in
The station building at Karjaa is currently shrink-wrapped, but the stations at Tammisaari and Salo
depict what lies underneath.
Hyvinkää–Karjaa–Hanko predated Helsinki-Karjaa-Turku by thirty years and is the straight-line route,
resulting in sharp curves at either end of Karjaa for the main line. Before the 1990’s realignments,
the Turku line made an even more abrupt sweep to the north, now replaced by the first of five
major straightenings, involving a total of sixteen tunnels, the longest being 1240 metres. Salo and
Kupittaa are the only remaining active passenger stations before reaching Turku. However, loops
have been retained at several closed stations, the PTG charter being looped at Ervelä to enable the
15:30 ex-Turku InterCity to pass. During the Salo layover, another crossing move of two InterCity's
took place. Plenty of timber traffic was in the yard awaiting transhipment to rail.
The tour was overtaken by the 16:10 ex-Helsinki Pendolino at Paimio, also crossing the 16.30 ex-
Turku InterCity there.
The north face of the island platform and its track at Kupittaa were out-of-use, owing to major road
works involving the destruction of the substantial retaining walls at the west end. Reaching Turku at
18:20 was not the end of the day’s travels.
Turku station is a modern concrete edifice. To the Swedish speakers in Finland Turku is Åbo, hence the dual
Throughout the five-and-a-half days in the main PTG charter train, members of the group took turns
in having two-at-a-time authorised rides in the loco cab. To avoid distracting the driver, one of the
official provisos was “no photography”. Your correspondent’s first chance came with the final leg of
Day 2, a trip to Naantali, fourteen kilometres west of Turku, where your he boarded the roomy cab
of Dv12 #2549.
Immediately west of Turku station, the branch to the port curves sharply southward, used by a
handful of InterCity trains connecting with the ferry service to/from Stockholm. The western fringes
of Turku are traversed by the 65-kms freight-only single-track line to Uusikaupunki, on the agenda
for Day 3. The Mäkinen map shows four spur branches off the Uusikaupunki line, all heading to
nearby coastal locations. Naantali is the final of these, leaving the main route at Raisio (8 kms).
Some stretches of the spur were often becoming overgrown with vegetation. The Naantali branch
opened in 1923, passenger services being withdrawn in 1972.
At Naantali, the branch widened into four tracks, from the southernmost of which a subsidiary spur
was taken, which headed towards the port. Progress into the port, beyond the VR boundary, was
prevented by the presence of a stop-board (a mid-rails disc on a removable post), beyond which the
spur crossed a busy road. Despite being unable to progress further, the PTG charter had triggered
the barriers of the level crossing. Consequently, while the driver awaited authority to propel,
considerable queues of vehicles built-up on either side of the lowered barriers. Many car drivers
must have been mystified and frustrated by the lengthy delay, without any train crossing the road!
It was subsequently discovered that the owners of the branch line, the local council, had decided to
close the line, but not bothered to tell the railway authorities – who were surprised to hear about it!
The charter was propelled into the yard loops for run-round and reversal. It was now time for your
correspondent to exit the cab, after a rather novel experience.
Regaining Turku, the charter was briefly held for the 19:45 Turku Port to Tampere to exit the port
spur. On arriving at the main station (on a non-platform road) some nifty footwork for those
interested allowed an opportunity for a quick round trip on an InterCity heading to the port. Having
been on this section in 1993, your correspondent’s priority was to check-in at the hotel, then head
out for dinner.
Tuesday 4 July – Turku to Tampere
For the next two-and-a-half days the PTG charter train would be hauled by a vintage Dr12 diesel
loco, one of two survivors from the fleet of 42 machines built from 1959-63. The order was split
between two Finnish manufacturers, both based in Tampere. Odd-numbered locos were built by
Lokomo and even-numbered by Valmet. Withdrawal began during the 1980’s, the train loco #2216
being the last to be withdrawn in 1990, and now owned by the Haapamäki Locomotive Museum
Association. Curiously, the cab-end number plates are detachable.
As with yesterday’s finale, the charter headed along the Uusikaupunki line, after five kilometres
diverging onto the short Viheriäinen branch. At the terminal yard, a Dv12 was active with a short
rake of tank-cars. No run-round took place, the charter being propelled back to Turku goods yard,
then retracing its outward route, this time keeping to the Uusikaupunki line at the junction for
Viheriäinen. Thirty kilometres from Turku, the charter was looped at Mynämäki, to be crossed by a
southbound mixed freight, inevitably headed by two Dv12 locos. Your correspondent opted out of
the photo opportunity, owing to a short spell of rainy weather.
The station building still survives at Uusikaupunki, passed without stopping, then entering the
industrial compound at Hangonsaari, seventy freight-only kilometres from Turku. The activity
included a fertiliser plant and oil in Russian-owned tank-cars. Nearby, the Rotterdam-registered
Coral Ivory was berthed. In 2013 this vessel was involved in a collision which temporarily closed the
Kiel Canal. Unlike the other ship, which was holed and listing 45º, the Coral Ivory did not sustain any
major damage. It normally carries liquid ammonia!
Dr12 2216 runs round on the far side of the yard at Hangonsaari in a very industrial setting
At Hangonsaari the train was pushed back another 500 metres to just before an unloading bunker, beyond which
the line ended.
After run-round the charter made the traditional back-up to the limit of the branch, before heading
back for a brief photo-runpast at Uusikaupunki. Once again the tour was looped at Mynämäki for a
crossing move. This time it was not raining, enabling a good photo opportunity as two Dv12's
pounded through with a train of Russian tank-cars.
Arriving back at Turku, there was a planned layover, pending the departure of IC 917, the 13:05
Turku to Oulu, due 20:28 – a 660 kms journey. This is the only daily through service, curiously with
no southbound counterpart. Sr1 electric loco #3031 was at the helm of three double-deck InterCity
coaches. The Sr1 is rapidly becoming a cult locomotive, albeit these days superseded on InterCity
services by the Sr2 fleet. Back in 1994, the Sr1 fleet was usually in immaculate exterior condition,
not seen as such during the PTG tour. The green band flanking the headlights is an unfortunate add-
on. To say the least, the new InterCity coaches have a rather bizarre livery.
Heading from Turku towards Toijala on the Helsinki-Tampere main-line, the PTG charter had a stop-
over at Humppila. There the PTG party transferred to an awaiting special train for a trip over the
75cm gauge Jokioinen Museum Railway, the surviving 14-kms remnant of a line which once reached
Forsaa, 25-kms from Humppila. Opened in 1899, closing to passengers in 1954 and freight in 1974,
the Minkiö to Jokioinen section was reopened by enthusiasts in 1978, extending back to Humppila
Four-axled diesel loco #3 headed the three bogie coaches and a brake van. The loco appears to have
had a rather strange history. Built in 1948 in an aircraft factory, in a batch of 76 locos as war
repatriations to the Soviet Union, it was one of ten which remained in Finland. Originally powered
by a wood-gas generator (don’t ask about the technicalities!), a conventional diesel engine was
subsequently installed. Designated as Move 21, three eventually arrived on the Jokioinen Railway,
two of which are in active use. After passing through Minkiö, #3 ran-round at Jokioinen, then
backed-up to the end-of-track before heading to Minkiö.
Above left: Running round at Jokioinen prior to backing up the track in the distance.
Above right: The former line to the riverside in the village is being relaid by an Estonian volunteer and currently
extends 300 metres beyond Jokioinen station.
After a photo run-past, there was just sufficient time for a rapid exploration of the depot housing a
collection of steam locos.
No 3 on its run past near Minkiö under rather grey skies
One of them, #5 Orion had a brief spell on the Welshpool & Llanfair Railway, but was too heavy for
Aside from the enjoyable heritage journey, there was the bonus of sighting a pair of common cranes
in a field. Not too many birds were sighted during the PTG travels, but deer were frequently seen,
on two occasions in the unfenced gardens of houses on the town fringes. Hares were plentiful. On
one occasion, a hare scampered away in fright, with just its ears protruding above a crop of low-
growing cereal. Looked like two submarine periscopes!
Back now to Humppila, to rejoin the PTG charter.
After leaving Humppila, the PTG charter was briefly looped at Urjala for a crossing move by Turku-
bound IC 924. Reaching the Helsinki-Tampere main-line at Toijala, a visit was made to the privately-
owned Venturimuseo, housed in the former roundhouse. The external collection included a vintage
snowplough. Also of note was the adjacent former water-tower, mysteriously fitted with two rows
The roundhouse at Toijala now houses a railway museum. The picture Is taken from the tour train on the adjacent
It looks like a boat, but in fact it’s a snow plough. Note the extendable ‘wings’ on the side to shift even greater
quantities of snow.
Before reboarding the PTG charter, Pendolino S47 16:24 Helsinki to Vaasa passed non-stop, formed
by two six-coach Sm3 sets. A northbound freight also passed, headed by Vectron Sr3 #3308, one of
ten already delivered with a further seventy on order. These locos are fitted with a “last mile” diesel
The final exploration of the day was the 17-kms Valkeakoski branch, which had an intermediate loop
at Metsäkansa for timber traffic. Several rakes of vans for paper products were seen in the seven-
track Valkeakoski terminal, with a green-liveried Dv12 in action.
After run-rounds and reversals at Valkeakoski and Toijala, the final leg took the charter to Tampere,
taking the freight loops, rather than the main-line on the station approach.
In Tampere, the PTG group had a two-night stay in the Hotel Sokos Torni. No problem locating it. It
was built in 2014, adjoining one of the roundhouses on the east side of Tampere station. This
roundhouse has been converted to a restaurant, in which several of the group enjoyed dinner on
the first evening.
Your correspondent’s room was on the ninth floor, with a splendid view of the station and
overlooking the loco stabling point. By good chance PTG’s vintage Dr12 #2216 kindly put in an
appearance. The hotel had a busy bar on the top 25th floor, but the perspective from your
correspondent’s room was much better.
The old roundhouse at Tampere now serves as restaurant and reception for the rather more modern hotel in the
tower behind it. Locomotive sounds greet those entering reception and steam comes out of the turntable
outside, creating an interesting effect at breakfast!
The view over Tampere station from the PTG hotel
Wednesday 5 July - A day trip from Tampere
Just before the 08:16 departure of the PTG charter, two Pendolinos headed south from Tampere to
Helsinki. S42 left at 08:02, the 05:54 ex-Vaasa, formed with two six-coach sets, non-stop to Tikkurila,
then Pasila. S154, a six-coach set, starts from Tampere at 08:07, calling additionally at three
intermediate stations before Tikkurila.
After six kilometres on the West Main Line, at Lielahti the PTG charter diverged onto the single-track
Pori line. The Pori line is served by eight passenger trains each way, reduced slightly at weekends, all
of InterCity status and calling at five intermediate stations. Two trains run to/from Helsinki, all
others being confined to the 133-kms north of Tampere.
At Nokia, the first intermediate station, the PTG charter was looped to cross IC466, the 07:15 ex-
Pori. In 1865 the world-famed Nokia company originated at this namesake town, albeit then
involved as a pulp mill, later also producing rubber products. Its latter-day telecoms industry is
based at Espoo, west of Helsinki.
Kokemäki, passed non-stop, is the junction for the freight-only line to Rauma, to be traversed during
the return journey. Harjavalta, the last InterCity stop before Pori, is the base of extensive rail-served
copper and nickel smelters. Looped at the non-passenger Nakkila, to be crossed by IC464, the 10.10
ex-Pori. Strangely the six southbound Tampere shuttles are sequenced 462/466/464/478/468/470.
Pori was passed without stopping, followed by a winding route through its suburbs before heading
on a straighter NW alignment. Now on freight-only non-electrified trackage, twenty kilometres
beyond Pori the PTG charter entered the seven-track Mäntyluoto Yard. There are intentions to
electrify from Pori to Mäntyluoto. After loco run-round, there was the routine back-up to the VR
limit adjacent to the privately-owned industrial complex. After progressing a brief distance back
towards Pori, the PTG charter backed-up along the Tahkoluoto branch, running on causeways and
viaducts across the waterways. After roughly ten kilometres, the charter reached the boundary
gate, beyond which lay yet another industrial complex and port. No possibility for a photo-stop in
this isolated spot, but better was to come. After a fifteen-minute retrace, the charter stopped at the
end of a viaduct, most of the group disembarking and trekking about 300 metres to a shore-side
photo-spot. Meanwhile the charter backed towards Tahkoluoto, then ran forward for photo run-
Above left: Getting off the train on the causeway onto a small island
Above right: Run-past on the causeway between Tahkoluoto and Mäntyluoto
Aside from the run-past, the walk involved passing a mega wind-turbine, which was being serviced
by a gigantic aerial work platform. Not a task to be tackled if you suffer from vertigo! If you are an
adventurous reader, go to GoogleMaps (61.6101, 21.5162), where you will discover that the rail
swing-bridge is recorded as being open for water traffic.
Back at Pori, with a limited layover your correspondent opted not to go on an exploration of the
town, in which during his 1994 travels, your correspondent discovered the old station, close to the
riverfront. The new station, not as central as the original, was opened in 1938.
Retracing to Kokemäki, during the run-round/reversal, a Rauma-bound freight and IC 468 14:15 Pori
to Tampere passed, both with green-liveried Sr1 locos at the helm. The 47-kms Rauma branch lost
its passenger service in 1988, but was electrified concurrent with the Pori line in 1998. Rauma was a
hive of freight activity, with Dv12’s shunting the spurs beyond the main yard, preventing any further
exploration of the port area.
Progress beyond the end of the yard at Rauma was prevented by shunting operations.
After run-round, the charter re-passed a steam loco berthed on the retained turntable of the former
Retracing to Tampere there was a final crossing move, this time at the Ahvenus loop with IC175, the
14:04 Helsinki to Pori. Tampere was reached nine minutes early, after a day during which some
fascinating locations and rail activities had been observed.
Thursday 6 July – Tampere to Pieksämäki
After being at the helm for the past two days, from Tampere to Vilppula would be the group’s last
journey behind vintage Dr12 #2216. Rather than head directly south-east, #2216 was at the north
end of the PTG charter, initially making a propelling move towards Helsinki as far as the freight
yards. There it headed forward via the south-to-east avoiding chord. More rare track! At the eastern
junction of the two single-track chords, double track commences for the 41-kms to Orivesi. This
section, and onward to Haapamäki, was the original West Main Line, until superseded by a direct
153-kms line from Tampere to Seinäjoki opened in 1971. Following the opening of a direct line
between Orivesi and Jyväskylä in 1977 (freight) and 1978 (passenger), Haapamäki became even
more of an outpost. Electrification of the direct route between Tampere and Pieksämäki was
completed in 1994. The three routes currently radiating from Haapamäki remain non-electrified.
Orivesi is basically a junction station, remote from the town, better served by a halt at Orivesi
keskusta (= centre), albeit with only three daily trains in each direction. A second halt, Juupajoki, is a
further 16-kms distant, soon followed by a loop at Korkeakoski. After being mainly in agricultural
surroundings during the first few days, forests now dominated, with rather restricted vistas other
than when passing lakes (which was quite often!). Of the three above-mentioned passenger trains,
one terminates at Vilppula, the other two continuing to/from Haapamäki (and onward to Keuruu on
the Seinäjoki-Jyväskylä orbital line)
At Vilppula, 89-kms from Tampere, #2216 was detached, being too heavy for the next stage, namely
the 8-kms Mänttä branch. The replacement locos were somewhat tardy in arriving from Haapamäki,
giving a chance to photograph a green-livered Dv12 on a local freight. Dv15 #1991 and Dv16 #2038
are both four-axled diesel shunters with coupling rods, dating back to 1961 and 1962 respectively.
Both are now owned by the Haapamäki Railway Museum.
At Mänttä the PTG charter passed through the cluster of loops, to reach the buffer-stops of the
head-shunt, which was shrouded by trees. Quite a struggle through the overgrowth to grab a photo.
At the buffer stops at Mänttä, an interesting, but difficult, photo location
A trailing spur siding serves a paper mill, which is the source of traffic. After back-up and run-round,
the charter returned to Vilppula for another run-round before heading north to Haapamäki. A brief
photo-stop was made at a traffic-free intermediate level crossing.
At Haapamäki, the line from Vilppula arrives from the south, with the Jyväskylä merging from the
south-east. After passing the station, the line to Seinäjoki heads away north-west. South of the
station, the Railway Museum lies on the east side. At a slightly higher level is the steam locomotive
park, a separate entity to the railway museum. The latter was the provider of locomotives, coaches
and staffing for the PTG charter, other than on the first day and final afternoon.
This was not your correspondent’s first visit to Haapamäki, having made an overnight stop there in
1994 with two fellow BR retirees. In those days, there was a string of withdrawn VR sleeping cars
stabled at the top end of the station, for overnight use as dormitories. Those coaches are now
history, albeit nearby there is now the Hilttoni B&B, which cannot be found on the Hilton website!
In 1994, many sun-drenched days had been enjoyed, shorts worn throughout the trip. Despite being
July, the 2017 tour had some dull and cold spells of weather, particularly during the Haapamäki day,
necessitating at one stage four layers of clothing. At least it was not raining.
The steam park had a multitude of locomotives on display, not all of Finnish ancestry. A miniature
railway offered the chance of some live running.
Above left: Some of the many old steam locomotives on display at the Steam Park.
Above right: The locomotive on the miniature railway may have a familiar look to those that have paid attention
to the pictures on previous days! A five minute trip around the loop cost €2 and was sufficiently authentic as to
include a disused branch line.
After visiting the Steam Locomotive Park, next to the Railway Museum. The pair of diesel shunters
from the final leg were on the roundhouse turntable.
The locomotive depot at Haapamäki with the two locomotives that have just arrived with the tour on the
turntable and an operational steam locomotive next to them.
The PTG train loco for the past 2½ days, #2216, was already back on shed, next to Tr3 #1136. This
restored 2-8-0, built in 1947, was a member of the largest class of Finnish steam locomotives, 161
being built in two batches, 1927-31 and 1943-53.
Scattered around the sidings were many old locomotives and railcars, many requiring a massive task
to bring back to working order. In particular, your correspondent hopes that one of the vintage Dm9
2-car articulated diesel railcars will be restored. Doubtful that your correspondent will see it.
Probably they have been at Haapamäki for a couple of decades.
Despite now only having a sparse passenger service, the fine station building at Haapamäki still
survives, complete with a collection of vintage agricultural machinery on the main platform. Once
on the West Main Line, prior to the 1971 opening of the Tampere-Seinäjoki cut-off, Haapamäki now
has only eight trains per day. Two each way between Seinäjoki and Jyväskylä, plus two each way
between Tampere and Keuruu (the first station on the Jyväskylä route, involving a reversal at
Haapamäki). All of these services appear to be worked by the sixteen-strong fleet of Czech-built
single-unit Dm12 diesel railcars, either singly or in pairs.
Onward from Haapamäki, the train loco for the next 2½ days would be Dr13 #2343, one of a fleet of
54 C-C locos, built in 1962-65 to an Alstom design. Other than the first two built in France, the
remainder were built in Finland by Lokomo (odd numbers) and Valmet (even numbers). During your
correspondent’s 1994 visit, many of these machines were still active, particularly on lines radiating
from Turku, then still in process of electrification. Two survive in preservation, #2343 being part of
the Haapamäki Railway Museum collection.
Beyond Keuruu, a brief photo-stop was made at Asunto, no longer open to passenger traffic. East of
Petäjävesi, a scramble through vegetation was worthwhile for a run-past photo-shoot.
At Jyväskylä, the 1977-built cut-off from Orivesi trails from the south-west. Via this cut-off, the
direct Tampere to Pieksämäki line is electrified throughout, another reason for the downfall of
Haapamäki. Two freights were stabled at Jyväskylä, plus a Sr2 and a string of Dv12’s, the last-
mentioned probably required for the freight-only 211-kms line to Haapajärvi, the first 48-kms to
Äänekoski being in the process of electrification to serve an industrial location. The UK cannot justify
the electrification of the short Windermere branch, yet in Finland a substantial freight-only stretch
is being electrified! In the period of the tours visit the line between Jyväskylä and Pieksämäki had
passenger trains replaced by buses for engineering works, though freights continued to run. The
tour had received special permission to pass, but there was no sign of any engineering works at all!
A crossing move with a westbound freight was planned at Hankasalmi. Although the freight did not
run, the booked call was taken as the final photo-stop of the day before reaching Pieksämäki.
After arriving at Pieksämäki, a visit was made to the comprehensive Savo Rada railway museum,
housed in the original station building and kept open specially for us.
Friday 7 July – Pieksämäki to Joensuu
After the bitterness of the previous day, the sun had reappeared, albeit the weather was still rather
fresh. Pieksämäki is at the crossroads of the cross-country line from Tampere to Joensuu and the
Central Main Line from Kouvola to Kontiomäki via Kuopio and Iisalmi. Pieksämäki to Joensuu is
relatively modest and, unlike other routes, is not electrified. Having seen preserved Tr3 #1136 at
Haapamäki, a sister loco #852 was on display on the east platform. Just before departure, the 07:00
ex-Joensuu arrived, formed by a single Dm12 DRC. As the charter departed, Pendolino S64 arrived,
the 06:33 ex-Kajaani (north of Iisalmi) to Helsinki, due to arrive there at 12:40 passed.
Its station is completely out of scale with the town it serves, but Pieksämäki is an important junction and railway
centre with big yards nearby, so presumably parts of the building function as offices for other departments of the
The Joensuu line curves away sharply to the north-east, the PTG charter soon passing the east-to-
north avoiding curve. On the west side of the main line, the loco maintenance depot is followed by a
lengthy marshalling yard, its north exit being roughly four kilometres north of Pieksämäki station.
Plenty of traffic stabled within the yard, but no permission for the tour to pass through as there
were no lines free. Post-trip, an examination of the on-line records for a specific day revealed a total
of thirty three freight trains departing/arriving/calling at the yard.
Thirty-eight kilometres north of Pieksämäki, the charter drew-up at Suonenjoki station, a three-
track layout, including a centre road. The station building and main platform lie on the east, the PTG
charter stopping on the west side platform, which is the only track with access to the Yläkoski
branch, diverging immediately to the north-west. Once extending 6kms to Iisvesi, opened in 1889
and losing its passenger service in 1936, the branch is now only active to a timber yard at Yläkoski
(3kms), extending a further one kilometre to a buffer-stop. Although the track onwards to Iisvesi
was still in situ, beyond a disused level crossing it was totally immersed by lupins.
Lupins have taken over the trackbed between Yläkoski and Iisvesi. Yes, there are rails under there!
A back-up move was then made for a photo-stop at the Yläkoski loop, then continuing back to south
of Suonenjoki station, for a forward move into the main east-side platform. Suonenjoki is famed for
cultivating strawberries, the station platform bearing an appropriate decor. Leaving Suonenjoki for
the third time, the charter passed the one-road shed, which once would have housed the Iisvesi
branch locomotive. Note that access to the shed involved movement of the turntable.
Resuming northward, the charter was looped at Salminen, for a crossing move with Pendolino S66,
the 06:51 Oulu to Helsinki, due 15:40, a journey of 800 kilometres end-to-end.
Looped again at Kurkimäki, this time to be overtaken by IC63, 08:19 Helsinki to Kuopio, due 12:20.
Although classified as an InterCity, a Pendolino was working this train. Your correspondent stood
aside from the main photo line-up, opting for lupins with a train in the background. Then onward for
a brief lunch-stop at Kuopio.
At Siilinjärvi, twenty-five kilometres north of Kuopio, the 111 kms freight-only line to Viinijärvi
diverges, soon turning south-eastward. Opened in five stages between 1927 and 1970, passenger
services ceased in 1989. A east-to-north avoiding chord also links with the Central Main Line. Shortly
afterwards a triangle junction on the south side leads to a vast chemical plant at Kemira. A photo
runpast was made at Juankoski, its station building long-abandoned. Looking southward, the narrow
canyon, created by the closely-flanked conifers, characterised the somewhat-claustrophobic nature
of the line.
A mid-section runpast was made at a causeway, before reaching Luikonlahti. Timber wagons, for the
prime traffic, were stabled at Luikonlahti. Despite being a freight-only route, the line speed is a
respectable 100 kph.
Before reaching Sysmäjärvi, a mid-section stop was made to enable a back-up move onto the 4-kms
Vuonos branch. Towards the end of the branch, a stop was necessary to remove a small tree,
partially blocking the line. An active cement works is located at the end of the branch, with two tank
wagons underneath the loading hopper.
Left: The PTG charter backed up as far as
allowed, which was the orange change of
ownership sign in the background which has
VR on the right and Mondo Minerals on the
Before leaving Vuonos your
correspondent grabbed the
chance for his second cab-ride of the
tour. Onward to Joensuu the line
was generally enclosed in a
forested canyon mentioned above.
After a brief stop on regaining the main
route, the loops at Sysmäjärvi had some
stabled cement wagons. Just before
Viinijärvi, the direct line from
Pieksämäki runs alongside. More timber
traffic activity at Ylämylly.
Approaching Joensuu, tank-
cars were stabled, serving a fuel depot
on the south side. After curving
south, the Pieksämäki and the Nurmes
line run parallel, before merging to
cross the five-span girder bridge over
the Pielisjoki, the central span appearing to be capable of being raised. The northern limit of the
East Main Line OLE was anchored to the southernmost span of the river bridge.
Quite a fascinating day, involving a very lengthy freight-only through route, plus the spurs to
Yläkoski and Vuonos. Nowhere in the UK is there a similar rail activity. At Joensuu, not only did a
freight arrive from the Nurmes line, but there was the charming delight of an excited toddler
sighting his first main-line diesel. The final stage of the day involved proceeding south into the yard,
then eventually being hauled back to the extensive loco maintenance depot on the east side of the
station. The locomotive for this short hop was Dr16 #2810. Twenty-three of these Bo-Bo locos were
built between 1985 and 1992, now being the most powerful diesel in VR service.
The two roundhouses at Joensuu are now used only for storage and PW machines.
Walking back to the station, inadvertently your correspondent passed through a bird-nesting area,
resulting in his being dive-bombed by an irate Arctic Tern.
Saturday 8 July – Trouble with steam
Three stages to the final day of the tour, starting with a 71 kms sortie from Joensuu to Ilomantsi, the
most easterly rail-served locality in the European Union. Due to weight restrictions, for this leg the
Dr13 was replaced by Dv12 #2607.
Located at 62.6709, 30.9551, Ilomantsi is two degrees further east than Istanbul. Inevitably most of
the line was shrouded by conifers, interspersed by the occasional lake. Two intermediate loops were
passed, Heinävaara and Tuupovaara, both with timber-loading facilities. The branch was opened in
stages, commencing in 1957 and reaching Ilomantsi in 1963. Passenger services only lasted until
1968. Line speed is limited to 50 kph.
Reaching Ilomantsi, the PTG charter continued slowly past the former station to enter the head-
shunt, finally edging the buffer-stop.
The buffer stop represents the easternmost point reachable by rail in the EU.
An en-masse pilgrimage was made to this geographically-unique extremity, soon to be expunged
from British compendia, to be replaced by Lowestoft.
Then a back-up move to the station loops, for loco run-round. Very extensive timber yards on the
south side, with a mega-rake of loaded timber wagons awaiting transit. Looking at the train graphs,
this probably took place the next day, even though being a Sunday. Another facet of VR operation,
which is virtually non-existent in the UK.
Ilomantsi had a passenger service for a few years, and the station building remains, though only used by train
crew nowadays and with a much larger building built onto the back of it.
Well worth scoring-up this obscure branch, even though it involved three hours of trundling speed.
During the loco change at Joensuu, single-car unit Dm12 #4406 was coming off the the depot, ready
to work the 11:52 to Nurmes, the forward connection off the 07:28 ex-Helsinki, due 11:45. Way
back in 1993, your correspondent was on the morning train from Helsinki. then forward on the
Nurmes route to Lieksa on a Dv12-hauled two-coach service. The next morning he travelled onward
to Kontiomäki, a journey no longer possible beyond Nurmes. These days, both the Nurmes and
Pieksämäki routes have two round trips, worked by Dm12 diesel rail cars.
Dr13 #2343 was once again at the helm, restricted to 80 kph on the onward journey to Pieksämäki.
Passing Viinijärvi, it was evident that the freight-only line to Siilinjärvi, traversed the previous day,
was the original route, the 1940-completed route to Pieksämäki veering south-west. A substantial
girder bridge over a waterway was crossed at an isolated location. Soon afterwards, at Heinävesi
there was an on-time crossing move with the 11.42 Pieksämäki-Joensuu, covered by Dm12 #4412.
Approaching Varkaus, a disused canal was crossed, immediately followed by a swing bridge over the
realigned Taipale Canal, basically a large lock linking two lakes with a five-metre height difference.
With the train still on the bridge, the charter stopped at an adjacent level crossing, where most of
the PTG group alighted for a photo-runpast. Plenty of activity on the canal, with leisure vessels
leaving the lock.
2343 makes a slow speed run past over the bridge over the Taipale canal.
Resuming westwards, the charter passed through Varkaus, a major town, with a triangle west of the
station serving an industrial complex on the north side at Kommila. Taking the main-route chord
involved a 180º north-to-south turn. Approaching Huutokoski, the Joensuu line trails into the former
route from Savonlinna, now truncated. Even way back during your correspondent’s 1994 travels,
this section was a bustitution, due to the poor condition of track. Since then, a major waterway has
been upgraded, which would have involved the replacement of a rail overbridge, an unjustified cost.
Approaching Pieksämäki, instead of taking the direct east-to-south route into the station, the PTG
charter took the east-to-north avoider, to join the Central Main Line adjacent to the control tower
of the marshalling yard. A two-kilometre back-up move gave access to the outer face of the island
platform, opposite the awaiting steam-hauled Hoyryveturimatkat1009 train, which would take us on
the final leg to Kouvola.
Within twelve minutes of arriving at Pieksämäki and alighting from the diesel-hauled Haapamäki-
based charter train, the PTG party was on the move aboard the Höyryveturimatkat1009 train, the
one used on the first afternoon of the tour. With Hr1 Pacific #1009 again at the helm, the formation
was as on the first day of the tour: a two-axled open wagon loaded with sacks of fuel, a two-axled
stores wagon, six bogie coaches (three passenger-carrying and three for staff and power-
generating). Once again, the PTG group was allocated to the open saloon coach. The other two
coaches were the 63-seat buffet cars, one of which had counter service. Both of these two vehicles
were carrying public passengers.
All went well initially, with a pick-up stop at Mikkeli, 70-kms from Pieksämäki. Recessed at Otava (85
kms) for a booked overtaking move by IC68, the 14.31 Kuopio to Helsinki, which the charter should
have followed, to be held at the next loop, Lelkola, for a crossing move with Pendolino S47 14.14
Helsinki to Kajaani, due 20.32. Instead the charter was held at Otava for this crossing move,
probably due to inspecting potential problems on #1009, resulting in a 43" late departure.
Beyond Lelkola, the Ristiina branch diverges north-east at Mynttilä, now reduced to a remote plain
junction without loops. A further eight kilometres, Mäntyharju, together with Mikkeli, is one of the
two intermediate passenger stations between Pieksämäki and Kouvola. Like the Tampere to Pori
line, all trains are of InterCity or Pendolino status, all of which stop at both locations. During the run-
round move, a considerable number of local residents boarded.
Now running tender-first, #1009 retraced to the Mynttilä junction, diverging there onto the 12-kms
Ristiina branch, not surprisingly enclosed by endless conifers. At Ristiina, a centre through track is
flanked by a lengthy loop on each side, the Höyryveturimatkat1009 train stopping in the northern
one. After loco-run-round, the fun began. A gravel access road had enabled a lorry-mounted grab to
park alongside the loop, adjacent to the open wagon. With no health and safety inspectors present,
the contents of a multitude of bags were transferred to the tender, mainly wood, but some coal.
Coaling the locomotive in rather rural surroundings at Ristiina
This process took up quite a bit of time, but eventually the PTG party reboarded, ready for the final
back-up move to the VR limits. This involved over two kilometres before reaching the gate of the
paper products plant, which justifies the branch's continued existence.
The end of the Ristiina branch for practical purposes and a photo stop to record the event. The length of the
shadows gives an indication of the late hour.
After proceeding through the loops, the charter was now on its way back to the main line, but not
without a further stop on a short bridge between two lakes, where a 45-minute stop was made,
rewatering direct from the lake with the aid of a small mobile pump. Daylight was now weakening,
but still enough light to grab a final shot of #1009 and a scene familiar for the past week - conifers
enclosing a lake. On reaching Mäntyharju, about eighty punters alighted. They would be eating
dinner two hours later than anticipated, but at least they had that treat in store. Leaving
Mäntyharju at 22:30, the charter was now seriously late, unlikely reach Kouvola in time for a meal -
but worse was to come!
An axle on the tender was suffering a hot box, resulting in moving forward at restricted speed,
roughly 40 kph. Kouvola still lay nearly seventy kilometres ahead. Very wisely, a decision was made
to call for a coach to collect the PTG group at Hillosensalmi, 28 kms south of Mäntyharju.
Fortunately, although an evening meal was no longer on the agenda, PTG participants were well-
served by free coffee and cakes from the buffet car, the stock of which was stripped bare.
The train reached Hillosensalmi at 23:17, 167" late on schedule. The group remained on the train,
until the coach arrived which, after the group’s transfer, departed at midnight. With a full moon, it
was still semi-daylight, creating a mystical atmosphere during the 45 kms road journey. Your
correspondent stayed awake, quite absorbed by the eerie surroundings. The booked Kouvola hotel
was reached at 00.45, more than three hours later than scheduled. your correspondent’s only
disappointment was that it was far too late to go in search of a bar for a celebratory beer to
commemorate the end of a magnificent tour. That would have to wait until reaching Helsinki
Although Kouvola was the end-point of the organised PTG tour, there will be a short coda to cover
the Pendolino journey from Kouvola to Tikkurila.
Höyryveturimatkat1009 did manage to reach Kouvola as an ECS, arriving at 02:38, by which time
members of the group were probably in deep slumber.
Sunday 9 July - Back to Helsinki
Following the formal end of the charter tour at Kouvola, the PTG package offered various homeward
options. Your correspondent’s choice was to head to Helsinki Airport, by travelling on the 09:22
Pendolino service (08:13 Imatra to Helsinki). Eight other PTG companions also chose to do so.
Sufficient time at Kouvola station to observe the ancient and the modern, the former represented
by a plinthed Tr3 #859. The modern was in the form of the Allegro Pendolino unit, working the
06:40 St. Petersburg to Helsinki, the first of the four daytime round trips between these cities, each
taking less than 3½ hours. In contrast, in 1991 there was just one trip each way between Helsinki
and Leningrad, taking 6½ hours.
Formed with two six-coach units, a sluggish four minutes passed before full power was applied, then
at about 180 kph before a kick-in, close to 210 kph. Beyond Lahti, 220 kph was reached on the 2006-
opened cut-off, averaging 163.7 kph over the 88.5 kilometres to Tikkurila. The booked timings are
for a loco-hauled InterCity. All seats are pre-reserved, the PTG group being in the Kouvola/Lahti
block, close to full occupation. Taking timings, there was no chance to check the loadings in the rest
of the set.
With a twenty-minute frequency on the Helsinki Airport Loop service, there was only a brief wait
before joining the four-car Sm5 Flirt set for the short trip to the deep subterranean Lentoasema.
Having experienced the dawdle of the Kiev-style escalators a week beforehand, this time the lift was
your correspondent’s choice. A swift check-in followed, soon giving a chance for the celebratory
beer missed at Kouvola, as a result of the unplanned post-midnight arrival at the hotel. A terrific