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Anne Berner (Centre), the Minister of Transport and Communications, reminds that the economic, environmental and safety-related impacts of the rail infrastructure project remain unknown. (Credit: Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)
Anne Berner (Centre), the Minister of Transport and Communications, reminds that the economic, environmental and safety-related impacts of the rail infrastructure project remain unknown. (Credit: Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)

 

Anne Berner (Centre), the Minister of Transport and Communications, reveals that the proposed fast-speed rail connection between Helsinki and Turku could be completed in 2031.

Approximately 40 million euros has been earmarked for planning the rail high-speed connection, which would reduce travel times between the two cities by 45 minutes – to roughly one hour and 13 minutes – by effectively taking a shortcut through Lohja and Salo.

The infrastructure project is set to feature in the 12-year transport infrastructure plan of the Finnish government.

“I’d be very surprised if these key projects wouldn’t be part of the 12-year transport system plan,” Berner said during a panel discussion organised in Lohja on Sunday by the Centre Party.

“We’re moving towards Swedish thinking and structures that strive to ensure all decision makers are committed to 12-year decision-making cycles. This is a way to promote predictability and vision for what kind of infrastructure investments we’ve committed to on a regional and national level, and how they will be built.”

Berner stated that the parliamentary task force assigned to conduct the preparatory work is currently weighing up various ways to fund the infrastructure project and considering if the funding could make it possible to complete the project ahead of schedule.

“We could fund especially these over one-billion-euro rail infrastructure investments more diversely by, for example, having our earnings-related pension firms take part in the funding. We’d probably be better positioned to receive funding from the EU and utilise the Nordic Investment Bank and European Investment Bank, along with the state and possibly municipalities,” she said.

She also reminded that the fate of the large-scale project is still largely up in the air, partly due to uncertainty surrounding the economic, environmental and safety-related impacts of the project.

“The question now becomes is the year 2031 a good time. Is it too far off, or could it maybe be closer? We can answer this question if we find a funding solution,” she said. “Let’s say it was ready five years ahead of schedule: [we’d have to think about] how much benefit would it create for the society and would it be worth it?”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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