Information published on 28 February 2017 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 537.

Finland: Consultants chosen to study feasibility of Helsinki-Tallinn tunnel

The FinEst Link project is a cooperation between Finland and Estonia in examining the development of the transport link and the feasibility of a railway tunnel between Helsinki and Tallinn. The bodies to perform the consultancy work for this EU funded project have now been selected and the results are to be expected during 2017.

Consortium of five companies to evaluate profitability and impacts
The profitability and the impacts of the tunnel project will be evaluated by a consortium that consists of Ramboll Finland, Sito, Strafica, Urban Research and Pöyry Finland. The consortium will provide information on whether there are grounds for designing the railway tunnel or whether the long-term option of only developing the current maritime services and connections to the ports of Helsinki and Tallinn is more profitable.

The report estimates the volumes of passenger and freight transport regarding both options. Commuting is studied separately. The consortium will conduct an extensive impact and cost-benefit study on both options. The evaluation will decipher the impacts on the transport systems and the development strategies in both countries, in addition to the economic effectiveness and the regional impacts on the local population and public economy.

Three consultants to study technical and economic feasibility
The second report will be conducted by Sweco, WSP and the Swiss Amberg Engineering that was involved in the designing of Saint Gotthard and Brenner tunnels, amongst others. The report will examine the technical and economic feasibility of the undersea railway tunnel.

The consultants will define the general outline of the tunnel, in addition to the locations of the stations and the railway depots. Furthermore, the report will examine the best way to connect the tunnel traffic to the public transport in the cities and to the current and future railway networks in both countries.

An important part of the report is defining the safety aspects of the long railway tunnel. In addition, the report will provide valuable information about the construction and maintenance of the tunnel and the costs of the railway traffic.

We received high-quality offers from large planning groups that have international expertise in carrying out large transport projects and assessing their impacts and, moreover, have local expertise in both countries, Project Manager Kari Ruohonen describes.

Ten applications in total participated in the tender.

Thorough research enabled by EU funding
The thorough research work on the feasibility of the tunnel project was enabled by the EU funding under the Interreg Central Baltic programme. The overall budget of the two-year FinEst Link project is 1.3 million euros. The project is led by the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council in cooperation with the city of Helsinki, the Finnish Transport Agency, the city of Tallinn, the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and the Harju County Government.

The city of Helsinki is responsible for studying the impacts of the project and the Finnish Transport Agency is responsible for studying the technical and economic requirements of the tunnel option. Finnish and Estonian partners will participate in funding and conducting the report.

The partners in this project will hold a start-up meeting in Tallinn on February 14-15.

One large labour market and economic area
Helsinki and Tallinn together constitute an economic area of busy freight traffic and nearly 1.5 million people. A growing number of commuters and leisure travellers travel between the two cities. Last year, a record of 10 million passengers arrived at the port of Tallinn. Weekly, ten thousands of people commute between the cities. In the tunnel, the 90-km train journey would take about 30 minutes.

A cooperation agreement between Finland and Estonia was concluded at ministerial level last year in order to boost the tunnel project.

The results of the studies are published at www.finestlink.fi

(Source: FTA)