The Rail Tunnel Between Helsinki and Tallinn Takes Another Leap Forward
On Friday, Finland and Estonia agreed that examination of the Helsinki-Tallinn tunnel project must be continued and carefully planned together.
Anne Berner, the minister of transport and communications of Finland, said that the social and economic impacts of the tunnel would be substantial. “A tunnel between Helsinki and Tallinn would be significant for the entire Europe. Together with Rail Baltica it would form a fast connection to Central Europe and also to Asia. The planning and background work in this project has to be of very high quality and must be carried out in close cooperation with Estonia at all stages,” she said.
According to Berner’s counterpart Kardi Simson, the minister of economic affairs and infrastructure of Estonia, “Finland and Estonia are both globally well-known for the digital innovation agenda and good education and I believe that, if we are closer to each other, we can make a great step forward together and enforce each other’s competitiveness. The fixed link between countries would strongly support the easier movement of labor, education, healthcare and so on.”
At the meeting, Finland and Estonia agreed on the following:
- The project must be promoted in cooperation with the states of Finland and Estonia and the cities of Helsinki and Tallinn.
- The project provides an opportunity to promote the twin city concept and a closer common labor market area around Helsinki and Tallinn. The cities could together form an economic region of 1.5 million people.
- The tunnel should be planned to link optimally with other parts of the transport system. Its planning must be part of the public transport, goods and passenger transport services.
- The tunnel is a large-scale project that requires funding from several sources. Funding will be needed from the EU, but also from the private and public sectors.
- The Ministries of the Environment of Finland and Estonia see it important to coordinate the environmental impact assessment in both countries. This can take around 5-6 years.
“In order for the tunnel to strengthen the competitiveness and global accessibility of the Helsinki metropolitan area and the entire country, it is essential that it would reach the nodes of the existing transport system and link together the two major city centers, Helsinki and Tallinn. This is the only way to ensure that the economic and other benefits will be realized,” said Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori.
“Already today we have a number of cross-border projects to develop the Tallinn – Helsinki twin city concept. Soon we can speak about common mobility solutions and other integrated public services. The tunnel would be a huge step forward providing an opportunity for Talsinki to become one of the leading economic centers of the Baltic Sea area”, said Deputy Mayor of Tallinn Andrei Novikov.
Berner said that Finland will reaffirm its commitment to Rail Baltica.
“Rail Baltica is an important new route for transports from Finland to the central market areas. Finland is preparing for a partnership in the joint venture, RB Rail AS, coordinating Rail Baltica to speed up the project,” Berner said.
However, Finland has set certain terms for its involvement. The RB Rail AS joint venture must be responsible for coordination of all matters concerning the whole project, for example, EU funding must go through the venture. Instructions that ensure the transparency of procurements must be included in competitive tendering. The level of management and administration of the venture must be professional.
More about Rail Baltica:
- Rail Baltica is a transport project for constructing a rail connection between Warsaw and Tallinn via the Baltic countries. It is part of the EU’s TEN-T core networks.
- The estimated price of the Rail Baltica rail is around EUR 6 billion. The main part of financing would come from the EU cohesion funds.
- So far the venture has received its funding from annual increases in the share capital. The share capital of the venture is around EUR 8 million. Finland’s percentage of this would be about 25.