Vapaavuori, Lyly and Viljanen: Helsinki, Tampere and Vantaa getting ready to take part in the Finland Railway project

Uutta Helsinkiä
1.2.2019

The cities of Helsinki, Tampere and Vantaa are preparing to join the Suomirata or Finland Railway project company, which is tasked to develop the country's main rail line. Finland Railway will in due course enable direct and fast transportation between Helsinki city centre and Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, direct long-distance train transportation from the main line to the airport and an approximately one-hour ride from Tampere to Helsinki. Finland Railway will to a large extent benefit rail traffic development opportunities and all of Finland.

The ministerial committee on economic policy today resolved to establish a new government-owned limited company to serve the railway project companies. Out of the project companies, the Finland Railway company is ready to be launched and is the one that is the easiest to advance.

The establishment of the project companies is conditioned on other public corporations or publically owned corporations that have a stake in the project joining the company as shareholders. The cities will shortly initiate their own processes for deliberations and decision-making. The government invests initially 15 million euros in the Finland Railway project company, and it is expected that the other stakeholders invest altogether 15 million euros. Thus, the government will remain the majority owner of the project company.

Concerning years 2019–2021, the project company has been given the mission to promote the planning of the project and to bring together other potential owners that might invest in it. The objective is to bring about a situation where also the next cabinet will render the construction of Finland Railway its backing.

– Finland Railways is the most important and urgent development project within the entire Finnish railway system. Without innovative, new financial models, nationally important infrastructure projects would be delayed for decades due to the lack of budget resources. The importance of rail traffic as a means of sustainable transportation is growing, but the main rail line is badly congested already as it is. The main line serves a large part of the Finnish population; hence, it is in the entire country's interest that the Finland Railway project is being promoted speedily, Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori asserts.

– Just by investing in Finland Railway, we have the opportunity to develop a substantial part of all of Finland, to generate new jobs and tax revenue for the whole country and to advance our climate goals. For ambitious targets you need ambitious solutions, Tampere Mayor Lauri Lyly states.

The project is important due to the fact that it aims to solve the problem of capacity shortage that the whole main line suffers from. This is a problem that has already for a long time been the topic of joint discussions between the cities and towns along the main line together with VR, Finavia and Finnair.

– From the point of view of national competitiveness, the most urgent part of the Finland Railway project is to develop the railway section between Helsinki and the airport and further on to Tampere as this is the section with the most traffic. The first step is to get started with the planning with the objective to open up this well-known bottleneck, Vantaa Mayor Ritva Viljanen says.

The Finnish main rail line will officially be linked to the Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T), which constitutes the nucleus of European transportation. This makes it possible for Finland to receive EU funding for the investments and to funnel it into Finland Railway in the future.

– Finland Railway will bring Finland economic growth, employment and enterprises during the construction and also after it has been completed. The project is not about regional policy, but instead a large complex with consequences that stretch the whole country, Vantaa Mayor Ritva Viljanen elaborates.

Finland Railways goes along with a vision where it is integrally linked up with the European railway network and the global network of airports. This will have a considerable impact on national competitiveness.

– The participation of the local governments is based on the fact that faster transportation affects geographical accessibility, the regional economy, the region's appeal and development. The government should play a strong role as financier of infrastructure in coming years as well. Without it, it is hardly possible for any project to advance. The new cabinet should remember this, Tampere Mayor Lauri Lyly points out.

– If Finland Railway becomes true, it means that the entire country would have substantially faster connections with Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. At the same time, investments in Finland Railway will improve our connections with other parts of the world as well. This is a matter of destiny for a small export-oriented country, its increasingly international cities and its globally operating enterprises, Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori summarises.

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