Helsinki-based Finest Bay Area Development is moving forward with its plan to build an undersea railway tunnel between the Finnish capital and Estonia, Tallinn. (Handout – Finest Bay Area Development)

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FINEST BAY AREA DEVELOPMENT is about to sign a letter of intent for constructing a roughly 100-kilometre undersea railway tunnel between Helsinki, Finland, and Tallinn, Estonia, with China Railway Group Limited (CREC), reports YLE.

The letter of intent is to be signed by the end of this week, Peter Vesterbacka, a founding partner and spokesperson of Finest Bay Area Development, told YLE on Tuesday.

CREC, he highlighted, has specialised specifically in railway infrastructure projects and possesses expertise also in tunnel construction – having built over 18,000 kilometres of of railway tunnels in China.

“There’s no shortage of expertise,” he summarised to the public broadcasting company.

CREC, which employs some 290,000 people, consists of around 50 subsidiaries and operates in more than 90 countries, reported annual net sales of roughly 95 billion euros in 2018, signalling an up-tick of 7.5 per cent from the previous year. The infrastructure development specialist was listed as the world’s 56th largest company in 2018 by Fortune.

Its largest shareholder is China Railway Engineering Corporation (CRECG), a Chinese state-owned and controlled infrastructure company.

Building the undersea railway tunnel is expected to take six years and create 20,000 person-years of jobs in Finland and 6,000 person-years of jobs in Estonia, according to YLE.

The ambitious infrastructure project is estimated to cost a total of 15 billion euros. Finest Bay Area Development in February announced it has found an agreement on the funding with Touchstone Capital Partners, a private equity firm based in China.

“Touchstone has extensive experience of funding similar large private infrastructure projects,” commented Kustaa Valtonen, the other founding partner at Finest Bay Area Development.

The Finnish development company has also assured that no more than half of the funding will be derived from China. The rest of the funding will be obtained from pension insurance and infrastructure investors in Europe.

Vesterbacka said last year the objective of the project is to expedite the creation of a twin-city relationship between Helsinki and Tallinn. This, he explained, would increase the amount of space available for housing, bring experts on different sides of the gulf closer to one another and create an urban region larger than Amsterdam or Stockholm.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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