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An illustration showing Otakeila, one of the four stations along the mooted undersea railway connection between Helsinki and Tallinn. (Credit: Handout – Finest Bay Area Development)
An illustration showing Otakeila, one of the four stations along the mooted undersea railway connection between Helsinki and Tallinn. (Credit: Handout – Finest Bay Area Development)

 

Kustaa Valtonen, a co-founder and board member of Finest Bay Area Development, reveals that the development company will shed further light on how it intends to fund its ambitious project to build an underwater railway tunnel between Helsinki and Tallinn on Monday, 3 December.

The 15-billion-euro infrastructure project is so massive that, if completed, it would have a notable impact on the economic situation in Finland.

“This would be the biggest project in Finland since the mid-1800s, when the channels were being built. That project was worth roughly 50 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product. This will have a smaller impact, but will be impactful nonetheless,” he said on Thursday.

Finest Bay Area Development signed a letter of intent for building the 100-kilometre-long underwater railway tunnel last year with a business consortium consisting also of Fira, Pöyry and A-Insinöörit. The objective was to proceed with the planning stage and consolidate the consortium by bringing in new partners from China.

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Valtonen on Thursday was tight-lipped about the details of the funding arrangement but reiterated his confidence in the multibillion-euro project. The objective, he affirmed, is still to begin commercial operation in late 2024.

“We’ve promoted the project on several fronts,” he told Uusi Suomi. “One of these is looking into the environmental impacts, a process that started last spring. We’ve had an average of 40 people working from our partners, mainly from Pöyry, since last May.”

Markku Oksanen, Pöyry’s head of infrastructure, water and environment in Northern Europe, has similarly stated that the past year has gone according to plan.

Valtonen and Peter Vesterbacka, the other co-founder of Finest Bay Area Development, have previously announced that external funding for the project will be sought especially from China and elsewhere in Asia. The fundraising effort began last summer with a tour with stops in Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong, according to Valtonen.

The official environmental impact assessments will begin shortly in Finland and later in Estonia.

Both Finland and Estonia have expressed their tentative support for the infrastructure project. Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) and Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas conceded last spring that private funding will be required to construct an undersea tunnel between the two capitals.

The project is also discussed today by Finnish Minister of Transport and Communications Anne Berner (Centre) and Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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