Nordic countries: Finland

In April the Finnish government presented its investment plan for the period 2017-2020. Apart from the light rail Raide-Jokeri (€275 M), it will also participate, in other important projects.

The government decided to improve the rail link Luumäki-Imatra in the vicinity of the Russian border to expedite the crossing of goods and people across the border between Finland and the town of Svetogorsk. It is estimated that the total cost of the project is € 165 M and is scheduled to begin construction works in 2018. Apart from this information on the projects, note that it is expected that during 2016 the conditions for the opening to competition of rail transport services for passengers will be defined.

Baltic Route
“Rail Baltica” Warsaw-Kaunas-Riga-Tallinn-Helsinki is one of the 30 priority projects of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) of the European Union and its main objective is the economic integration of the Baltic countries and Poland with eastern Europe. The provisional length of the railway line will be 728 kilometres, including 264 kilometres in Lithuania, 235 in Latvia and 229 in Estonia.

The network’s development is conditioned by the widths of the existing track. On the one Poland and Germany (1435 mm), the Baltic countries (1520 mm) and Finland (1524 mm). Preliminary studies conducted in 2011, estimated a cost of 1,500 million euros for the implementation of the first option and 2,400 for the second, although more recent estimates put the total cost at 3.600 million. The project will be implemented following the European standards and the trains will run on rails of 1435 mm.

One aspect of greater complexity is connecting the cities of Helsinki and Tallinn, separated by the Gulf of Finland and a distance of 80 km. The construction of a tunnel from Helsinki to Tallinn, which would provide a rail link between the two cities, is debated in the Nordic country. According to a preliminary study published in early 2015, the estimated cost of the project would be between 9,000 and 13,000 million Euros, of which approximately 4,000 million correspond to the construction of the tunnel.

At the end of 2015, the Rail Baltica project took a major step forward with the signing of three agreements with EU subsidy. The decision to support the planning and development of three rail projects in the three Baltic countries and Poland with 734 million Euro destined to the project Rail Baltica through the mechanism “Connecting Europe” (Connecting Europe Facility, CEF) was approved. In addition, to ensure the EU co-financing for other stages of the project’s development, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania submitted applications for the second call for proposals and finally 202 million Euro will be allocated to the three Baltic countries to develop rail connections under the Rail Baltica project.

Arctic route
Currently, transport connections in Finland and the EU to the northern regions of Norway, northwest Russia and the western end of the North sea route are limited to road connections. During recent years in Finland, interest in developing a competitive, fast and environmentally sustainable transport system in the area to improve connectivity and competitiveness especially in the north has raised great interest. However, the rail connection to the Arctic Ocean is not considered an immediate need for the current government, but an interesting possibility for the future.

Initially, plans to build a broad-gauge railway starting from a deep water port located on the Norwegian coast of the Arctic Ocean were developed. The aim would be to use the corridors and existing transport means as a basis for identifying the different alternatives for the railway route: the total length of a possible path, the main option would happen in the town of Kirkenes (Norway) to Rovaniemi (Finland ) and it would also provide significant improvements for the industry. We analyzed the possibility of implementing the railway in two phases of development. According to preliminary plans submitted by the Arctic Corridor project, the first phase would be completed by 2020, to the city of Sodankylä in northern Finland and during the second phase of the railway construction the Arctic Ocean would be reached and that stretch would be completed no later than 2030.

“Raide-Jokeri” light Rail
The new light rail line will connect the Finnish capital city of Helsinki with the second largest city in Finland, Espoo, which is also located in the metropolitan area of ​​Helsinki. Chances are that the bids for planning and construction works related to Raide-Jokeri will be launched in summer/autumn 2016, once the final decision on the project’s implementation has been taken.

The development of the Raide-Jokeri plan, the fast tram line in the Helsinki’s metropolitan area, has been completed. It is estimated its total construction will cost 275 million Euros.
Contrary to perceptions exposed earlier, the Finnish government has approved a proposal to finance a third of the investment, and offers a stake of 84 million Euros to be allocated to the project between 2017 to 2019, with the aim of promoting the construction of new homes in the metropolitan area. The city of Helsinki will cover an investment of 129 million Euros and Espoo the 63 remaining millions.

The initial budget submitted with the development plan of the new line that would link the town of Keilaniemi in Espoo with Itäkeskus in western Helsinki, included, despite the total cost of the construction of the railway of the new tram, an estimate of other costs such as: 64 million Euros allocated to the construction of garages, 85-95 million euros to  the acquisition of equipment, cars, etc. and 1.6-2 million allocated annually for maintenance. According to the latest data released, construction works are scheduled to begin in 2018.

Tampere City Light Rail
No later than during the month of October, the council will share the final decision on the execution of the project. As for the bidding, the city of Tampere reinitiated in April the process of acquisition of rolling stock.

Turku City Light Rail
The project has not progressed much since the initial planning process began in early 2013.

Helsinki Metro.  Länsimetro
The extension of Helsinki’s Metro will take place towards the city of Espoo and west of the metropolitan area. The new metro units supplied by the Spanish CAF, will begin operations in the section of Länsimetro soon.

The metro in Helsinki’s metropolitan area will continue from Ruoholahti, Lauttasaari through and ending in Espoo. In the first phase, a 14 kilometres long railway line between  Matinkylä and Ruoholahti will be completed, including eight new stations. Koivusaari and Lauttasaari stations will be located in Helsinki, and those of Keilaniemi, Aalto University, Tapiola, Urheilupuisto Niittykumpu, and Matinkylä will be located in Espoo.

The section Matinkylä-Kivenlahti  in the west will be the next phase of construction consisting of seven kilometres. The new stations will be Finnoo, Kaitaa, Soukka, Espoonlahti and Kivenlahti.

The construction of the first phase of the metro to the west was completed in late 2015, and operation is expected to begin by early 2017. The entire line from Matinkylä to Kivenlahti will be completed no earlier than 2020. The extension of the metro to the west will add 13 new stations to the network.

In addition, a deposit of underground metro will be built in Sammalvuori. Each new metro station will have its own identity so that passengers can easily recognize them. Each station will have the same design platform and signalling, as well as similar access.