State-owned Valtion Rautatiet (VR; www.vr.fi) runs Finnish trains. It's a fast, efficient service, with prices roughly equivalent to buses on the same route.
VR’s website has comprehensive timetable information. Major stations have a VR office and ticket machines. Tickets can also be purchased online, where you'll also find discounted advance fares. You can board and pay the conductor, but if the station where you boarded had ticket-purchasing facilities, you’ll be charged a small penalty fee (€2 to €5).
The main types of trains are the high-speed Pendolino (the fastest and most expensive class), fast Intercity (IC), Express and 2nd-class-only Regional trains (H on the timetable).
On longer routes there are two types of sleeping carriage. Traditional blue ones offer berths in one-, two- or three-bed cabins, while newer sleeping cars offer single and double compartments in a double-decker carriage. There are cabins with bathroom, and one equipped for wheelchair use. Sleeper trains transport cars.
Fares vary slightly according to the type of train, with Pendolino the priciest. A one-way ticket for a 100km Express train journey costs approximately €25 in 2nd ('eco') class. First-class ('extra') tickets cost around 35% more than a 2nd-class ticket. A return fare gives a 10% discount. Online discounts are considerable.
Children under 17 pay half-fare; those under six years travel free (but without a seat). A child travels free with every adult on long-distance trips, and there are also discounts for seniors, local students and any group of three or more adults travelling together.
Various passes are available for rail travel within Finland, or in European countries including Finland. There are cheaper passes for students, people aged under 26 and seniors. Supplements (eg for high-speed services) and reservation costs are not covered, and terms and conditions change – check carefully before buying. Always carry your passport when using the pass.
Eurail (www.eurail.com) offers a good selection of passes available to residents of non-European countries, which should be purchased before arriving in Europe. Most of the passes offer discounts of around 25% for under-26s, or 15% for two people travelling together.
The Eurail Country Pass, valid for a single country, costs €182/245 for five/eight days’ 2nd-class travel in a one-month period within Finland.
Eurail Global Passes offer a variety of options for travel in 28 European countries, from €468 for five days' travel within a one-month period to €942 for one month's continuous travel. The Global Passes are much better value for under-26s, as those older have to buy a 1st-class pass.
On most Eurail passes, children aged between four and 11 get a 50% discount on the full adult fare.
Eurail passes give a 30% to 50% discount on several ferry lines in the region; check the website for details.
If you’ve lived in Europe for more than six months, you’re eligible for an InterRail pass (www.interrail.eu). The InterRail Finland pass offers travel only in Finland for three/four/six/eight days in a one-month period, costing €105/126/164/198 in 2nd class. The Global Pass offers travel in 30 European countries and costs from €208 for five days’ travel in any 15-day period, to €510 for a month’s unlimited train travel. On both passes, there’s a 33% discount for under-26s.
InterRail passes give a 30% to 50% discount on several ferry lines in the region; check the website for details.