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A tunnel to link Helsinki and Tallinn: why not?

Published the 11 March 2015

The Helsinki–Tallinn fixed link is a growth vision for Finland and the Baltic region, the purpose of which is to reduce travel time, add mobility and create competitiveness in the area. In the pre-feasibility study, the preliminary target year for the completion of fixed link is 2030-2035. This 9 to 13 billion Euros project would allow a significant increase of the amount of passengers between Helsinki and Tallinn from 8 (today) to 41 million passengers in the next 70 years.

The Helsinki–Tallinn growth zone is considered as a part of Europe-wide Trans-European transport networks supported by the European Union. The objective of the TEN-T is to promote the European internal market, regional cohesion and sustainable traffic network.

Nowadays, over four million people live in a 200 km radius from both Helsinki and Tallinn. Cargo and passenger traffic between Helsinki and Tallinn takes place by sea. The passenger flow has increased to approximately eight million passengers, increasing by two percent a year. The number of passenger cars has increased to over a million (2013), growing by 10 percent a year. Most of Finland’s export and import is carried out by sea. Finland’s cargo transport has increased significantly. The most important form of transport in cargo traffic between Helsinki and Tallinn is container and trailer traffic.

Both cargo and passenger traffic is estimated to increase via the Helsinki–Tallinn fixed link. Developing the link would have a significant effect especially on commuter traffic but also on tourism. The fixed link would not mean an end to sea traffic – as, for example, cruise traffic will continue and increase in the long term. The fixed link also has a significant impact on the development of other connections (for example railway traffic) as well as on the concentration of residential areas and companies’ competitiveness with regard to available work force. Travel time will be shorter and accessibility will improve significantly compared to the present. It was determined that implementing the fixed link also with road would not be profitable and are complicated from the technical and operational point of view.

The pre-feasibility study has been prepared by several experts from various fields. Previous studies considering development of the Helsinki–Tallinn link and the relevant statistical material have been used in the project. In addition, experience from the Øresund Bridge and the Channel Tunnel fixed links (strait of Dover) and experience from the Fehmarn Belt project have been taken into account. The feasibility of the building of a fixed link is a subject of paramount importance within the European Straits Initiative (see related articles).

Key figures:

  • 4 to 5 million inhabitants will live in the daily working area of the Helsinki–Tallinn fixed link
  • The fixed link will impact a broader area of about 17 million inhabitants
  • The amount of passengers between Helsinki and Tallinn could increase from 8 million (2013) even to 41 million passengers in the next 70 years
  • Today 30,000 people commute weekly or monthly from Estonia to Finland.
  • Up to 25,000 people would commute everyday ten years after opening.
  • About half of the cargo traffic will in the future go through the fixed link
  • Trains would be operated with maximum speed 250 km/h to achieve 30 minutes travel time.
  • The construction of the tunnel could start approximately 2025–2030, and construction work would take 8 to 10 years.

 

Contact

Kaarel Kose, Adviser,
Harju County Government,
Development Division
E-mail: kaarel.kose@harju.maavalitsus.ee
Tel: +372 52 08 480

Ulla Tapaninen
Special expert, D.Sc. (Tech.)
City of Helsinki
Economic Development Division,
E-mail: ulla.tapaninen@hel.fi
Tel: +358505258131

Kristel Kibus
Chief Specialist
City of Tallinn
Financial Service
E-mail: raepress@tallinnlv.ee
Tel: +372 640 4316

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