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Tramway tracks were being laid on Hämeensilta Bridge in Tampere on 19 May 2020. (Handout / Wille Nyyssönen – Tramway Alliance)

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THE CITY COUNCIL of Tampere on Monday voted 56 for and 11 against a proposal for building a western extension to the tramway system that is scheduled to commence operations in the almost 240,000-resident city situated about 160 kilometres north of Helsinki in August 2021.

The councillors also voted in favour of beginning the construction according to original plan, later this year, rather than postponing it, as proposed by members of the Finns Party and National Coalition.

The two-stage extension project will add light-rail tracks from Pyynikintori Square to Lentävänniemi.

In the first stage, the tracks will be laid from the square along Pirkankatu, Sepänkatu and Paasikivenkatu to the re-developed residential district of Santalahti. In the second, the tracks will be laid through Näsisaari, an artificial island to be constructed in Lake Näsijärvi, Hiedanranta and Niemenranta to Lentävänniemi.

The construction of the first stage can be commissioned from the Tramway Alliance, an organisation set up for the light-rail project by YIT, VR Track, Pöyry Finland and the City of Tampere.

The second, however, cannot be commissioned until the permit to build the artificial island has been approved. Environmental activists are expected to file an appeal against the permit with an administrative court, citing concerns about the project’s impact on groundwater.

The second stage will be considered by the city council for a second time if the permit is amended materially.

The Tramway Alliance says the trams will have a service frequency of 7.5 minutes outside and 3–4 minutes in downtown Tampere. The tram will provide a roughly 20-minute connection between the city centre and Hervanta, a southern residential district of Tampere, and a 10-minute connection between the centre and Tampere University Hospital.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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