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The Helsinki–Tallinn tunnel could increase the number of passengers to 24 million by 2050


FinEst Link ikoni+logo
An undersea railway route between Helsinki and Tallinn would significantly increase commuting and business travel between the cities and bring positive effects on the economies of both Finland and Estonia, estimates the FinEst Link project.

The Helsinki-Tallinn tunnel and the Rail Baltic together would create a new transnational North-South link to the European railway network for cargo and passenger traffic. This currently missing railway link would become an important part of the larger pan-European transport network. The preliminary results of the FinEst Link feasibility study predict that both passenger and cargo traffic will continue to grow and support the twin-city scenario by 2050.

Currently approximately 8.7 million ferry trips are made between Helsinki and Tallinn in a year and the passenger volumes between these cities have increased by 50 % in the past 10 years. The FinEst Link study estimates that by 2050, approximately 13 million trips would be made by train via the undersea railway tunnel and 11 million by fast ferries. This would mean an annual total of 24 million trips.

The railway tunnel would shorten the travel time between Helsinki and Tallinn from 2 hours to approximately 45 minutes. The fast connection would appeal especially to commuters, students and citizens using services on both sides of the Gulf of Finland. The tunnel would enable a new dimension of integration between Helsinki and Tallinn towards a full twin-city concept.

“The volume estimations show a positive scenario for the Helsinki-Tallinn twin city” says Kari Ruohonen, Project Director of FinEst Link. “The work continues now with a more detailed analysis of the economic and technical feasibility of the tunnel.”

“The preliminary results indicate a significant potential for the development of the Helsinki and Tallinn City Regions supporting a sustainable transport system”, explains Pasi Rajala, Director at Ramboll Finland.

New routes for cargo via Rail Baltic

According to the FinEst Link study, the annual transport potential of the Helsinki–Tallinn tunnel including all types of goods is 3.7 million tons and maritime cargo transport potential 4.5 million tons. This results in 8.2 million annual tons of maritime and tunnel cargo between the two cities in 2050. The analysis of cargo volumes is based on the assumption that Rail Baltic, the on-going railway infrastructure project from Tallinn via Riga and Kaunas towards Poland, becomes fully functional.

Besides the tunnel feasibility study, the FinEst Link project also investigates a non-tunnel scenario in which the future infrastructure investments are made only to the existing maritime connection that connects to Rail Baltic in Tallinn. In the non-tunnel scenario, the maritime cargo between Helsinki and Tallinn would total around 6.9 million tons per year. In comparison, in 2016 approximately 3.8 million tons of goods were transported between Helsinki and Tallinn (2 million tons from Helsinki to Tallinn and 1.8 million tons from Tallinn to Helsinki). The study indicates that the tunnel would bring new possibilities for the cargo volumes to increase notably between Finland and the Baltic countries supplementing the existing maritime transport.

According to the study, especially long distance transports between Finland and Central and Eastern Europe via Rail Baltic would use the Helsinki–Tallinn tunnel (more than 80 % of the transport potential for the tunnel).

“The transport potential of the tunnel consists of the predicted growth of transport demand and shifts from the maritime transports between Helsinki and Tallinn and between Finnish ports and Northern German and Polish ports”, says Director (Logistics R&D) Ilkka Salanne from Sitowise.

The FinEst Link project, part-funded by the Interreg Central Baltic Programme, carries out a feasibility study of the Helsinki–Tallinn fixed link in 2016–2018. The feasibility study focuses on the technical, economic and business viability of the railway tunnel vision. 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 Economy and Communications.

More information:

Project Director Kari Ruohonen + 358 40 504 5170

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