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Helsinki–Tallinn tunnel would connect rail networks from Lapland to Central Europe


The Helsinki–Tallinn tunnel would connect the Finnish passenger and cargo traffic to the vast rail networks in Europe. The tunnel is a part of a larger vision of a rail connection reaching all the way from the Arctic to Central Europe.

The FinEst Link project recommends that the tunnel would have the European gauge of 1435 mm from the Helsinki-Vantaa airport to the Tallinn airport in Ülemiste. This would ensure a direct route for cargo from Finland and Estonia to Central Europe without additional time needed for loading or storage. The air passengers, on the other hand, could reach the airport on the other side of the Gulf of Finland and take off from the Helsinki-Vantaa airport or the Tallinn airport or even take a train from Helsinki-Vantaa all the way to Warsaw without changing trains on the way.

Finestlink-Linjaus-composite. Picture Muotoilutoimisto Kairo Oy

Savings and growth for the export sector

According to the FinEst Link feasibility study, the undersea railway tunnel would bring major savings for cargo in terms of travel time and cost. The FinEst Link project foresees significant growth potential for cargo if the tunnel is built. According to its estimations 4.2 million tons of cargo would run both in the tunnel and on the ferries resulting to a total of 8.4 million tons per year in 2050. Currently the amount of cargo between Helsinki and Tallinn is approximately 3.8 million tons.

The Finnish gauge (1524 mm) would change to the European gauge (1435 mm) at the airport noise area north of Helsinki-Vantaa airport where large terminals would be located. The goods would be transported by trucks via the planned Ring Road 4 (Kehä 4) or via the Hanko-Hyvinkää track with the Finnish gauge and onwards to the Finnish national rail network. In the FinEst Link study, the heavy cargo trains have been estimated to run 120 kilometers per hour in the tunnel.

Finestlink-Geologinen-poikkileikkaus. Kuva Muotoilutoimisto Kairo Oy

From a vision to reality: a true twin-city

Already now Helsinki and Tallinn form a successful twin-city where people and goods cross the Gulf of Finland with ease despite the two-hour travel time. After the tunnel becoming operational, Helsinki and Tallinn would be able to develop into a unified working and living region when the travel time between the cities would be only half an hour at the speed of 200 km per hour. A fast connection between the cities would open up new possibilities for business, investments and tourism.

According to the FinEst Link calculations, approximately 12 million passengers would take the train and 11 million the fast ferries totaling to 23 million passengers per year in 2050. Currently approximately nine million passengers travel between the cities per year.

The FinEst Link feasibility study estimates that the number of passengers on fast ferries would continue to grow, even though a significant number of particularly daily travelers would choose the tunnel instead. If the tunnel is not built, the study expects to see 14 million passengers on ferries in 2050.

FinEst Link results are almost complete

The FinEst Link project has analysed the costs and benefits of an undersea railway tunnel between Tallinn and Helsinki. The results of the study will be presented at the final conference in Tallinn in February 2018. Last week, the Prime Ministers of Finland and Estonia expressed their support to the tunnel in case the feasibility study shows that the project is economically viable.

– The Helsinki-Tallinn tunnel is not only a transport project as it would have much larger societal impacts. Finland would be closely linked with Europe and a unified, competitive greater metropolitan region would be created in the Baltic Sea region, emphasizes the Project Director Kari Ruohonen.

When connecting with other transport projects in the pipeline such as the Arctic Corridor and Rail Baltica, the Helsinki-Tallinn tunnel would form the missing link from the Arctic through Finland and to the Baltics, Poland and Central Europe.

FinEst Link in a nutshell:

  • EU funded project studying the feasibility of an undersea railway tunnel between Helsinki and Tallinn.
  • Co-funded from the Interreg Central Baltic programme.
  • Total budget of 1,3 million euros for 2016–2018.
  • The project is led by Helsinki–Uusimaa Regional Council in partnership with the Cities of Helsinki and Tallinn, Harju County Government, Finnish Transport Agency and the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications.

For more information:

Project Director Kari Ruohonen, tel. +358 40 504 5170
Chief Adviser Malla Paajanen, Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council,
tel. +358 50 366 7391

> FinEst Link project

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