Putin takes a ride on Russia-Finland high-speed train

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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin inaugurated a new high-speed railway between Saint Petersburg and Helsinki on Sunday, taking a ride with Finnish President Tarja Halonen.

"It was so quick we didn't even have time to chat," Putin told reporters after disembarking in Russia's second city to a welcome from a military band.

The 450-kilometre (280-mile) link will cut the journey time between the two cities by two hours to around three and a half hours, and is Russia's second high-speed link after the construction of a line between Saint Petersburg and Moscow.

"We are planning a programme of construction of high-speed rail to serve the cities which will host the World Cup," Putin was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.

The 2018 football showpiece will be staged in 13 cities stretching 3,000 kilometres (1860 miles) from Kaliningrad to Yekaterinburg, on the eastern side of the Urals mountains.

© 2010 AFP

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