Alstom Allegro Pendolino train for Karelian Trains being loaded onto ship.

EUROPE: The first of four Alstom Pendolino tilting trainsets ordered for 'Allegro' services between Helsinki and St Petersburg is due to arrive in Finland this month, having been shipped from the Italian port of Vado Ligure on December 30.

The 220 km/h Pendolinos are being built at Alstom's Savigliano plant. They were ordered by the Karelian Trains joint venture of Finnish national railway VR and Russia's RZD in August 2007, based on a dual-voltage variant of the S220 design used by VR. The €120m contract was Alstom's first order to supply mainline rolling stock for Russia.

After initial tests in Finland the first trainset will be sent to Russia for certification. The remaining three sets will arrive later this year.

The Pendolinos will cut 2 h from the current 5½ h Helsinki - St Petersburg journey time, and a further 30 min will be saved after infrastructure works are completed in 2011.