Minister of Transport and Communications Sanna Marin (SDP) shed light on plans to build new high-speed rail links in a press conference in Helsinki on 10 September 2019. (Martti Kainulainen – Lehtikuva)

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MEMBERS of the National Coalition have asked Sanna Marin (SDP), the Minister of Transport and Communications, to clarify whether she is committed to the project to construct a new high-speed rail link between Helsinki and Turku.

Questions about the fate of the rail infrastructure project arose on Friday, when STT reported that the project will likely have to be publicly funded due to lack of interest from outside investors.

The Ministry of Transport and Communications, the news agency wrote, has drawn the conclusion that the company to be established to manage and carry out the construction project would not be profitable. The majority of shares in the project-specific company would be held by the state and municipalities located along the rail link.

The National Coalition on Friday reminded that the project was granted 40 million euros in funding by the previous government and identified as a key objective also by the current government.

“STT does not disclose the sources of its report, but it seems odd from the perspective of the independence and objectivity of the preparatory work if the project is not promoted by the Ministry of Transport and Communications. Minister Marin owes an explanation,” reads a press release from the opposition party’s Ilkka Kanerva and Petteri Orpo.

Marin and Minna Arve (NCP), the Mayor of Turku, have both argued that it is premature to draw any conclusions in regards to outside investors.

“I personally believe investors are interested in both the one-hour rail connection to Turku and other connections. It’s another question whether it’ll be possible and reasonable to carry out the projects with the project companies as far as construction is concerned,” tweeted Marin.

She estimated that the high-speed rail connections will be needed in the future but underscored that the projects must be credible and realistic also in terms of funding. She also asked the National Coalition whether it would remain supportive of the projects if it became evident that carrying them out was economically unfeasible for the project company.

“I’m ready to talk about the issue,” said Marin.

Orpo, the chairperson of the National Coalition, responded to her by stating that he is also supportive of other approaches as long as as they result in building the rail links.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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