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Plans are afoot for new high-speed rail links that would reduce travel times between Turku and Helsinki and Tampere and Helsinki to less than 60 minutes.
Plans are afoot for new high-speed rail links that would reduce travel times between Turku and Helsinki and Tampere and Helsinki to less than 60 minutes.

 

Politicians in Turku and Tampere have expressed their delight with the budget proposal unveiled on Thursday by the Ministry of Finance.

The Ministry of Finance recommends in the proposal that resources be allocated for high-speed rail links that would be capable of whisking passengers between Turku and Helsinki and Tampere and Helsinki in less than 60 minutes.

It reveals that planning funds are to be used to accelerate general planning and launch track planning for a high-speed link between Helsinki and Turku. Another important objective, it adds, is enabling traditional rolling stock to make the journey between Helsinki Central Station and Tampere Railway Station in less than 60 minutes.

The proposal was met with delight by Esa Halme, the head of the Council of Tampere Region, Lauri Lyly (SDP), the Mayor of Tampere, and Kari Häkämies, the head of the Regional Council of South-west Finland.

Häkämies interpreted the announcement as an indication that the intention is not to leave the rail projects to gather dust on the drawing board.

“This is a boost to the development of Finland that's moving forward ever faster,” he commented to Uusi Suomi.

Mikael Nyberg, the head of the network department at the Ministry of Transport and Communications, told Uusi Suomi that the ministry has already begun mulling over the funding, timetable and implementation of the rail projects together with the Finnish Transport Agency. 

He reminded that additional funding and political decisions will be required for both projects.

“More funding will certainly be needed for the planning,” he stated, revealing that planning costs typically account for 5–10 per cent of total project costs. “They’re easily in that ballpark for major rail projects such as these and the planning costs can be over a hundred million euros. Considerable funding will be needed.”

Nyberg added that the projects aim to expand the employment zone and, thereby, create growth, vitality and opportunities in and around Turku and Tampere, respectively. The projects would effectively link the regions to the capital region and promote movement, investment and residential building along the railway.

“Both are important projects, but I wouldn’t say they’re competing against each other. The time frames are a bit different, but it’s certain that both will move forward,” he affirmed.

His assessment was echoed by Häkämies.

“It’s a fact that the lack of labour mobility is a problem for the Finnish society. It isn’t a simple problem because of the emphasis here on owner-occupied housing. That’s why we have to improve transport connections to really get people moving,” he viewed.

“The market economy can’t function unless the infrastructure is in good shape.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi

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