VR is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. The celebrations reach a high point this week, for 17 March 1862 was the date when regular rail services began between Helsinki and Hämeenlinna.
“We look back with pride at our long, splendid history, during which the railways have played a key role in the development of Finnish society,” states President and CEO Mikael Aro. “At the same time we look to the future with confidence, for we intend to transport passengers and freight for at least another 150 years.” “We are working continuously at self-renewal, for the world around us is changing,” says Mr Aro. “Together with personnel and customers we are building VR Group into a modern, international service company, for which the most important goals are improving service, open dialogue and satisfied customers.”
Preparations for the celebrations are being made at railway stations. At VR’s stations with service over the next few weeks the public can not only see the flags flying but also enjoy complimentary birthday cake with coffee. The anniversary has brought stations a new look, and VR is making special offers for rail travel throughout the year.
An anniversary exhibition of photographs is opening to the public at Helsinki Central Station on 15 March. The exhibition includes photographs of VR’s rolling stock, the different railway professions and stations. Old posters advertising the railways will also be on display and a miniature railway built in the station ticket hall. The exhibition will be open until September.
VR’s anniversary year began in January with the publication of Getting there together - 150 years of VR, which tells the history of the railways in Finland. The book was written by Professor Seppo Zetterberg. In honour of the anniversary, personnel received new uniforms in February, and at the beginning of March VR anniversary postage stamps were issued. VR refurbished a heritage train for the anniversary year, which was named Valtteri. Valtteri has fully restored wooden-bodied carriages and a Dr13 diesel locomotive. Thanks to the automated protection device fitted on the train, it is able to travel on all sections of the rail network.