A bus slid sideways, blocking traffic on snowy Topeliuksenkatu in Helsinki on Tuesday, 23 April 2024. Heavy snowfall caused traffic chaos yesterday across the capital region as buses got stuck in snow and trams and trains were disrupted by technical issues. (Teemu Salonen – Lehtikuva)

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TRAFFIC in the Finnish capital region was in complete disarray yesterday due to heavy snowfall.

Helsingin Sanomat on Tuesday reported that public transport services experienced widespread delays as both buses and private cars got stuck in snow and trams came to a halt across the light-rail network as the overhead wires froze as a result of freezing rain.

Ultimately tram services were not resumed until yesterday afternoon.

The overhead wires are typically lubricated with glycerol to prevent them from freezing, but the tram fleet had already been equipped for the summer season.

Bus services similarly experienced widespread delays across routes, with certain routes operated only partly due to difficult road conditions. Also trains had trouble in the snowfall, with the I and K trains operated at reduced frequency in the afternoon. At Tikkurila Station, a railroad switch malfunctioned due to ice and snow, preventing trains from switching from one track to another until the afternoon.

Tuija Ruoho, a communication specialist at Helsinki Region Transport (HSL), told Helsingin Sanomat on Tuesday that she expects public transport services to return to normal this morning, barring something unexpected.

In Helsinki, 28 fender benders were recorded between 6am and 4pm on Tuesday, a police spokesperson revealed to the newspaper. While no serious traffic accidents occurred in the city over the 10-hour period, a handful of people did require hospital care.

In Kauniainen, however, a 10-year-old child died on their way to school following a collision with a tractor that was ploughing the streets. The accident was reported to the emergency call centre by the driver of the tractor at about 2pm, according to police.

The incident is being investigated as negligent homicide and causing a traffic hazard.

Snow continued to fall in the capital region throughout yesterday evening. Eveliina Tuovinen, a meteorologist at the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), stated to Helsingin Sanomat that snow fell particularly in western parts of Helsinki. For example, Kumpula had received 12 centimetres and Kaisaniemi 8 centimetres of snow by 5pm.

Both Nuuksio and Nurmijärvi recorded at least 20 centimetres of snow.

STT on Tuesday reported that the difficult weather conditions also resulted in the cancellation of over 60 flights that were scheduled to depart from or arrive at Helsinki Airport on Tuesday. Several flights were also delayed by many hours.

Finavia warned about the possibility of delays and cancellations earlier yesterday, as the challenging conditions force it to limit the number of aircraft and slow down airport operations.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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