The Ministry of Transport and Communications has announced it has selected a route connecting Oulu and Rovaniemi with Kirkenes, Norway, for further examination for a prospective rail link to the Arctic Sea.
The route was selected for further examination on grounds that it would improve the accessibility, security of supply and logistical position of Finland, while also being the less expensive of the two leading routing options. The other routing options under consideration would have terminated in Narvik, Norway, Tromsø, Norway, or Murmansk, Russia.
Anne Berner (Centre), the Minister of Transport and Communications, estimates that the prospective rail connection would create closer links between northern and continental Europe.
“The connection would improve the conditions for many industries in northern areas. A working group will now start to further examine the routing to Kirkenes,” she states in a press release.
The Ministry of Transport and Communication has been presented with a preliminary feasibility study of the rail link, which indicates that the route linking Oulu and Kirkenes would necessitate investments of two billion euros in Finland and 0.9 billion euros in Norway.
The study also found that the railway would mainly be used to transport minerals, fish products and wood industry products, as well as potentially natural resources harvested from the Barents Sea and goods transported along the mooted North-east Passage, a shipping route from the Arctic Sea to the Pacific Ocean.
The routes to Tromsø and Kirkenes also had the highest potential number of passengers.
The estimates of goods and passenger volumes also suggest that none of the proposed routing options is currently socio-economically feasible. The Ministry of Transport and Communications reminds, however, that the estimates are associated with some uncertainty due to their long-term nature and due to changes in transport costs or industrial structures possibly altering the scenario.
A Finnish-Norwegian working group will be appointed to address a number of key issues related to the project, such as costs, funding, permit procedures and environmental impacts. The working group will present its conclusions by year-end.
The rail connection will be a major step forward for Finnish Lapland, according to several Members of the Finnish Parliament.
Matti Torvinen (BR), for example, has declared that the project represents “a billion-euro opportunity to take Lapland to the 2050s”.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Irene Stachon – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi