Implementation of Helsinki-Tallinn tunnel to be studied with EU funding
In addition, the initiative prepared by the City of Helsinki and the City of Tallinn aiming to improve the transport flows in the harbours was approved for funding. The combined funding for the two projects is €3.1 million.
Clarity on the economic effects and building expenses of the tunnel
An early report published just over a year ago states that the Helsinki to Tallinn railway tunnel could be an economically profitable investment. The FinEst Link project starting now will thoroughly study the profitability of the construction of the tunnel. The connecting tunnel would be a large project on a global scale and would benefit the whole of Finland.
The early report states that an increase of 30 per cent in the current passenger and freight traffic would cover more than half of the expenses of the tunnel. The project would also call for private investors. In order to cover the construction costs of the railway, a 40 per cent EU grant would be required. Corresponding funding has been granted to, for example, the construction of the tunnel between Denmark and Germany.
The Regional Mayor of Uusimaa, Mr Ossi Savolainen, is pleased that the tunnel's feasibility study can now be properly started.
– The tunnel is a key project not only for the future of Greater Helsinki and the Uusimaa region, but for the future of Finland, as well. If the decision is to carry out the project, it would bring Finland closer to Europe and strengthen the role of the dual city of Helsinki and Tallinn as the centre of Northern Europe, Mr Savolainen points out.
In addition to profitability, the study will examine the safety, the environmental effects and the technical construction opportunities of the tunnel. The costs and benefits of the tunnel will be compared to an option where the current ferry traffic would be improved.
– The potential connecting tunnel and the future improvements to the ferry traffic are key factors for the future of the transportation system in Greater Helsinki and the Uusimaa region. Examining the construction possibilities is also necessary regarding the new regional plans, says Ms Merja Vikman-Kanerva, the Director of Land Use Planning at the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council.
The partners of the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council in the project include the Harju County Government, the cities of Helsinki and Tallinn, the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, and the Finnish Transport Agency.
Towards more efficient transportation
The FinEst Smart Mobility is a project that improves transportation flows between Tallinn's Old City Harbour and Helsinki's Jätkänsaari harbour, as well as improving the passengers' customer experience. The work is conducted with various smart mobility experiments such as "park and ride" and the control of heavy traffic. The experiments are conducted in the harbours of both Helsinki and Tallinn.
The plans also include improvements in the connections from the harbours to the airport in Helsinki and to the ring road in Tallinn. The project partners are the cities of Helsinki and Tallinn and their subsidiaries, as well as the Estonian Road Administration.
One labour market area
Helsinki and Tallinn nearly constitute one labour market area. The Greater Helsinki currently employs tens of thousands of Estonians, many of whom commute between the cities weekly on fast ferries. In addition, leisure travel from Tallinn to Helsinki is almost as common as commuting. Furthermore, nearly 20 per cent of the Estonians travelling to Helsinki continue to Helsinki-Vantaa airport and carry on elsewhere in the world.
The freight traffic will also increase significantly as soon as the Rail Baltica railway connection from Tallinn to Warsaw is completed in 2025.
Together Helsinki and Tallinn form an economic area of approximately 1.5 million people. To fully utilise the area's potential, the transport between the cities should be faster, and flow easier than at present. On a short term, the cities need improvements in the current sea connections and easier transport flows in the harbours. A potential long-term solution to shorten the distance between the cities would be provided by an undersea railway tunnel.
Follow the progression of the project and find new research results on the FinEst
Link website www.finestlink.fi.
The website also provides information on an initiative to develop transportation executed by Helsinki and Tallinn, the surrounding regions and the Ministries of Transportation of both countries. A Finnish-Estonian Transport Link memorandum on traffic cooperation was signed on 5 January 2016 in Tallinn.
Mr Olli Keinänen, Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council, phone +358 50 540 2260
Ms Ulla Tapaninen, City of Helsinki, Economic Development, phone +358 50 525 8131