The conflict in Ukraine has been devastating for a lot of people. First of all, for all the Ukrainians who had to, all of a sudden, uproot their entire lives and flee for safety. This has led to an influx of immigrants in Europe. But the war has also caused a lot of Russians to want to leave their homeland. Since most airline routes outside the country have been cancelled, it is very difficult for leave Russia at the moment. For this reason, Finnish railways has supplemented the number of trains from St. Petersburg to Helsinki.
We had full trains from St. Petersburg starting on Sunday. They are leaving for good. You can see it on the luggage they carry.Topi Simola, senior vice president of passenger services at Finnish Railways
Thousands of Russians have arrived so far in Finland, Yle, the Finnish public broadcaster has reported. Currently, there is a high-speed train servicing the St. Petersburg – Helsinki route twice a day, taking 3.5 hours to make the 400 km journey. Besides these, buses on the same route have also been arriving full in the Finnish capital. “I know people who are desperate to leave Russia,” Russian Elena told AFP news agency.
Svetlana, who lives in Austria and her 14-year-old daughter Maria, also managed to leave Russia via Helsinki. Their plane had already been cancelled. “We have been so lucky. Otherwise we would have traveled via Turkey. But that is so much more expensive.”
The Allegro line, run by the Finnish VR Group in collaboration with Russian Railways, has just resumed operations in December, after being suspended during the pandemic. Now, the Finnish railway company is “trying to deploy more trains on several days in the coming weeks” to provide fleeing Russians with an alternative way to leave the country, since most air routes have been cancelled, while the ones that are still allowed are already fully booked.
In the direction of St. Petersburg, the compartments are almost empty.railway spokesperson
One of the reasons for the departures is fear that Martial Law will be enacted in the country, closing all borders. Many young men are also scared they will be drafted to fight in the war. Over the past few days, people have been leaving the country through any means they can afford.