VR Pendolino (Photo: Janne Mikkila)

FINLAND: The board of state rail operator VR Group dismissed Lauri Sipponen as President & Chief Executive on April 4, just seven months into the job. Director of Passenger Operations Topi Simola has taken temporary charge while VR Group looks for a new CEO.

No reason was given for the removal of Sipponen, but board Chairman Kjell Forsen said it was nothing to do with recent decisions on traffic with Russia or anything possibly illegal.

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, VR announced on March 27 it would suspend operations between Finland and Russia. However the suspension of freight operations was quickly reversed on March 30, after it was clarified that British sanctions against Russian Railways did not apply to freight; Sipponen said that VR had suspended the traffic without liaising with the Finnish government. Allegro passenger services stopped on March 28 and remain suspended.