Contract for train services awarded: VR will continue to operate HSL train services

VR will continue to operate HSL train services also in the future. The Executive Board of HSL decided on the matter on 5 May 2020. The contract term is 10 years commencing June 2021.

The aim of the tendering process was to improve the quality and financial sustainability of train services in the Helsinki region. These goals were achieved.

As a result of the tendering process, the cost of some tasks included in the contract decreased by as much as 40 per cent compared with 2015. The total savings are estimated to be €275 million (about 24 per cent) over the course of the 10-year contract. The new contract offers significant efficiency measures and further price reductions from the current level.

“This is especially important for us now because of the financial distress caused by the coronavirus is set to put a heavy strain on our economy for years to come,” says HSL Executive Director Suvi Rihtniemi.

In addition to the price, special attention was paid to improving the quality of train services and customer service.

“We succeeded in achieving the desired result: an opportunity for even better train services in the HSL area," says Tero Anttila, Director of HSL's Public Transport Department. "At the same time, trains will be increasingly integrated with HSL's other transport services: buses, trams and the metro."

Under the new contract, HSL assumes greater responsibility for the level of service of train services and, for example, passenger information on trains.

The contract includes the operation of train services and rolling stock maintenance. HSL provides the rolling stock, leased from Pääkaupunkiseudun Junakalusto Oy, a rolling stock company owned by the cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen.

Result of a multiannual project

The tendering process conducted in two phases using competitive dialogue started in 2017.

In the first phase, HSL assessed the suitability of the bidders and the bidders who met the eligibility criteria were accepted to participate in negotiations. In the end, bids were received from two bidders: VR Group Ltd and Go-Ahead Group. The bid submitted by Go-Ahead Group was rejected for non-compliance with the tender specifications, but VR’s bid was better in terms of both quality and price.

Preparation work for the tendering process has continued almost throughout the 2000s, first by the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Council, HSL’s predecessor, and then by HSL. Pääkaupunkiseudun Junakalusto Oy, the rolling stock company that owns all 81 Flirt trains in service on HSL train services, was established in 2004. The company leases the trains to HSL which assigns them to the operator.

Until now, HSL train services have been operated by VR, under a direct award contract with HSL.

Ten year contract to commence in June 2021

The new contract will commence on 27 June 2021 and run for ten years, with an option to extend for a further three years. The contract is worth €36 million per year, or about €400 million over the entire contract period.