Two development projects for traffic between Helsinki and Tallinn have been awarded EU funding of EUR 3.1 million in total. The applicants for funding were the cities of Helsinki and Tallinn, the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council and the Harju County as well as the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and the Finnish Transport Agency. The project applications were approved for funding at the EU’s Central Baltic Interred Programme meeting in Hamina, Finland, on 14 June.

At the core of both approved projects are the Helsinki–Tallinn connections, but also the improving of the traffic connections between Finland and Estonia. It has been estimated that the Rail Baltica railway connection from Tallinn to Warsaw will be completed in 2025, before which it is important to make the traffic between Helsinki and Tallinn run as smoothly as possible, both in terms of freight traffic and passenger traffic.

Smarter transport

FinEstSmartMobility is a three-year smart traffic project, the aim of which is to improve the traffic flow and the passengers’ customer experience in the traffic between the Old City Harbour in Tallinn and Jätkäsaari in Helsinki. The work is done by experimenting with different kinds of smart transport methods, which are applied to park-and-ride, harbour-airport connections especially in Helsinki and the improved directing of heavy traffic from the harbours to the road network.

Also in the works is the improvement of travel comfort using the Estonia–Finland journey planner. Participating in this project are the cities of Helsinki and Tallinn including their group companies, as well as the Estonian Road Administration.

Work will now be undertaken to settle the economic impact and the construction costs of the tunnel

In the FinEst Link project, the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council, the Harju County Government, the cities of Helsinki and Tallinn, the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and the Finnish Transport Agency examines the realisation of the Helsinki–Tallinn railway tunnel connection from a technical, economic and social point of view. Things that will also be looked into are the construction safety, the environmental impact and other technical requirements of the tunnel. The project will also estimate the effects that can be achieved by improving the traffic flow between Helsinki and Tallinn through other measures, and what the development of the region looks like if the tunnel is not constructed.

The reports are scheduled for completion in October 2017. Background information will be published on the web as the work progresses. The main partner of the project is the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council. Kari Ruohonen, who has worked for long on numerous tunnel projects at the Finnish Transport Agency, has been part of the project preparations.

Background information

Helsinki and Tallinn are already almost the same labour market area. It is estimated that there are tens of thousands of Estonians working in the Helsinki region, most of which travel to Helsinki with fast ferries on a weekly basis. When combined, the metropolitan areas of Helsinki and Tallinn form an economic region with a population of two million. The full utilisation of the region’s potential requires faster and more fluent travelling between the cities.

In the short term, this means improving the current ferry connections and especially streamlining the trip chains from the harbours. The projects focus on improving the existing trip chain for passengers and freight traffic using smart traffic methods. The challenges include easy connection to the airport, park-and-ride, information on through service and the direction of heavy traffic to and from harbours. The work is done both in Helsinki and in Tallinn.

In the long term, a possible solution for decreasing the distance between the cities is an undersea railway tunnel. The economic preconditions for the construction and operations and the socio-economic effects of the tunnel can now be investigated more precisely. According to the preliminary pre-feasibility study published by the cities and the counties in the beginning of 2015, the tunnel could be an economically viable investment object for private investors as well, if the railway part is awarded EU funding covering 40 % of the construction costs.

Read more

The progress of the initiative and the studies made within its limits can be followed on the FinEst Link website: www.finestlink.fi

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What is the FinEst Link Initiative?

FinEst Link is an initiative founded and executed by the City of Helsinki, the City of Tallinn Government, the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council and the Harju County Government of Estonia. The Finnish-Estonian Transport Link cooperation document was approved in Tallinn on 5 January 2016.

The goal of the FinEst Link cooperation is to develop mobility between Helsinki and Tallinn and to improve transport links. The cooperation will also provide the framework for deepening economic co-operation between Helsinki and Tallinn as well as investigating the economic preconditions and impact of the proposed Helsinki–Tallinn railway tunnel. Furthermore, the cooperation will be used to develop an electronic travel card and a Finland-Estonia journey planner.

These pages provide information on mobility between Helsinki and Tallinn for residents, the authorities and the media. The website contains statistics, research data and other background information about mobility between the cities and about related projects. Readers and the media can submit questions and interview requests on the themes to the website editors using the request form.

The website was produced on an assignment from the City of Helsinki and the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council. For the time being, the site is maintained by the City of Helsinki Economic Development division.

Facts about mobility

Mobility between Helsinki and Tallinn has increased throughout the 2000’s. Passenger numbers have increased in Helsinki–Tallinn ferry traffic, even when other economic indicators have declined. Today more than 8 million people cross the Gulf of Finland annually, approximately 20 percent of whom are tourists from other countries than Finland and Estonia, while the rest are Finns and Estonians. The number of cars crossing the Gulf of Finland in 2014 was 1.2 million. According to a study by KPMG commissioned by the City of Helsinki and based on data from Statistics Finland, commuters from Tallinn to Helsinki in 2012 exceeded those from other large Finnish cities including Turku, Tampere and cities of Eastern Finland. A new estimate, produced by Taloustutkimus TA, will be completed in February 2016.

The article was originally published at the City of Helsinki’s website: read more.