Tuesday, April 3, 2012

150 Years of Railways in Finland

VR group (Valtion Rautatiet), Finland's state railways is celebrating its 150 years on the rail. In honour of the occasion, a six-stamp booklet designed by Tarja Salonen was released. The stamps depict six trains from different periods from the steam locomotive Ukkopekka to the newest train called Allegro, which runs from Helsinki to St. Petersburg. The shape of the stamps has been cut to perspective to give them the feeling of motion. These stamps were issued on 5.3.2012. 17 March 1862 was the date when regular rail services began between Helsinki and Hämeenlinna. Safety was important in designing the railway line because there were no level crossings and initially the trains travelled in different directions on alternate days. The 1930s were the golden age for rail travel in Finland as elsewhere in Europe. The all-time record for rail passenger volumes was set in the 1940s when the population began moving from farms to factories and commuting distances became longer.

After the war Finland started to modernize its rolling stock and diesel locomotives were introduced. Living conditions in Finland gradually improved and people started travelling again. The railways marketed round trips for holidaymakers. The urban line between Tikkurila and Kerava was completed in August 2004. In autumn 2006 the Kerava-Lahti direct line took the entire VR Group into a new railway age. Ella sent me this lovely FDC and maxicard shown alongside, which depicts the Helsinki Central Railway Station.

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