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Pandemic and Ukraine war reflected in early-year traffic

Published on 18.5.2022

The pandemic, which has now entered its third year, continues to impact various modes of transport. Road traffic volumes in January–March rose on the previous year, but remained slightly lower than in the pre-pandemic era. The knock-on effects of the war in Ukraine were most evident in train and air traffic. Use of the traffic data produced by Fintraffic, which is shared for use in applications such as navigators, reached a new record-breaking high. All these insights were gleaned from statistics published by Fintraffic in January–March.


“The growing popularity of remote work will have a lasting impact on mobility in Finland. At the same time, rising fuel prices are providing public transport with a good opportunity to lure back passengers that were lost as a consequence of the pandemic. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has already weakened Finland’s international connections due to the closure of Russian airspace and a reduction in international rail and road transport. On the positive side, there has been brisk growth in the use of traffic data. This bodes well for the development of transport services and continued improvements in traffic safety and flow,” says Pertti Korhonen, CEO of Traffic Management Company Fintraffic.


Air traffic in Finland still recovering more slowly than elsewhere in Europe

The positive trends seen in overflights during the early year came to a halt after the Russian invasion and subsequent sanctions on the country. Sanctions are forecast to impact air traffic for the rest of the year.

Central European airlines are now flying to Asia via Turkey. Another route from Europe to Asia runs via the North Pole.

“The number of overflights was developing very favourably in February. Now that Western airlines no longer fly over Russia, and the Russians cannot fly over the Nordic countries to North America, it’s mainly Chinese airlines that are making overflights of Finnish airspace. Western airlines’ extended travel times are unfortunate in terms of both fuel consumption and air traffic emissions,” says Raine Luojus, CEO of Fintraffic Air Navigation Services.

Statistics show variations in how air traffic has developed in different European countries. The further south you go, the closer the number of flights is to 2019 figures. Air traffic in Finland stood at about 61 per cent of 2019 levels in March. A slight improvement in the figures at Helsinki Airport is expected because airlines switched to their summer schedules at the end of March.


Road traffic increases on last year

In the first quarter, traffic volumes on highways and main roads rose by just under four per cent on the previous year and are now only just under three per cent below pre-pandemic levels.

“Road traffic volumes approached pre-pandemic levels in early 2022. Compared to last year, traffic has been increasing almost everywhere in Finland during the January–March period,” says Aapo Anderson, CEO of Fintraffic Road.

Growth was seen in both private motoring and heavy-duty vehicles. In January–March, passenger vehicle traffic rose by four per cent and heavy-duty traffic by just under two per cent. In regional terms, traffic volumes increased most in Southwest Finland (7%), Lapland (6%) and Uusimaa (6%).

Trends in road traffic are monitored using Fintraffic’s automatic road traffic measurement points (LAM points).


Rail freight continues to grow in popularity 

“Passenger volumes have gradually begun to return to pre-pandemic levels in commuter traffic. After a period of growth last year, freight traffic volumes contracted in the early year as a consequence of the Ukraine war and the resulting sanctions. Changes have also occurred in passenger traffic to Russia. Although Allegro trains began running again in December 2021, the service was suspended at the end of March. Track works have also affected the punctuality of rail traffic. The past winter was quite snowy, which is being reflected in the increased amount of track work and thereby in punctuality figures,” says Sanna Järvenpää, Chief Operating Officer, Fintraffic Rail.


Use of traffic data continues to rise

Both the volume and use of traffic data is growing briskly.

During the first quarter, 20 per cent more interface calls were made to the Digitraffic service than in the corresponding period of 2021. (Digitraffic provides open-source data on road, rail and sea traffic.) There was also a 30 per cent year-on-year increase in data volumes in the January–March period.

Fintraffic provides a traffic situation service to consumers, companies and the media, as well as open-source data for app developers to develop a variety of map services and navigators.


Check out Fintraffic’s services: 

Find out what open-source data on road, rail and maritime traffic is available in the Digitraffic service:

The Traffic Situation service visualises data provided by Fintraffic, the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency and the
Finnish Transport and Communications Agency (Traficom) on a map. This service is available as both a web service and a mobile app  (iOS and Android)

The Traffic Customer Service is a nationwide advisory service for matters concerning roads, railways and waterways. It is jointly provided by the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, ELY Centres and Fintraffic.

You can make reports on the condition of transport routes through a variety of channels. It’s a good idea to download the Traffic Situation service to your mobile phone, as it enables you to monitor the traffic situation in Finland and make reports on the condition of transport routes.

Read more about road and rail traffic volumes:


See also:

17 January 2022 Traffic volumes and traffic data usage increased in 2021 – public transport lagged behind private motoring


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