On the photo from the left: Pekka Sauri, Ossi Savolainen, Anne Berner, Kristen Michal, Ulle Rajasalu ja Taavi Aas. Photo: Kimmo Brandt.
The City of Helsinki, the City of Tallinn, the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council, the Harju County Government, the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications and the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications strengthen cooperation in the development of mobility and transport between Helsinki and Tallinn. In a Memorandum of Understanding signed in Tallinn on 5 January, the partners state that the economic area formed by the capital cities and their deepening integration improve the global competitiveness and economic development of both Estonia and Finland.
Better transport flows with digital solutions
Today Helsinki and Tallinn almost constitute one labour market area. It is estimated that the Helsinki region employs tens of thousands of Estonians, many of whom commute between the cities weekly on fast ferries. Helsinki and Tallinn together form an economic area of approximately 1.5 million people. To fully utilize the area’s potential, transport between the cities should be faster and flow easier than at present.
On a short term, the cities need improvements in the current sea connections, and they especially need easier transport flows from the harbours. The Founding Partners of the initiative outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding seek to improve the existing connections; they seek to increase dialogue and joint planning to develop mobility and transport further; and they especially seek to explore the opportunities afforded by digitization to ease transport flows. Smart mobility pilot experiments are planned for both Helsinki and Tallinn.
A potential long-term solution to shorten the distance between the cities would be provided by an undersea railway tunnel. The signatories of the Memorandum of Understanding seek to investigate further the economic preconditions for the construction and operation of such a tunnel and the tunnel’s socioeconomic impact. In early 2015, the cities of Helsinki and Tallinn, the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council and the Harju County Government published a prefeasibility study based on simple calculations showing that the tunnel would be an economically viable investment.
Two project applications were submitted in the late autumn of 2015 aiming at better transport flows and long-term development of mobility and transport. Financing for both projects will be decided during the spring of 2016.
FinEst Smart Mobility is a project that improves transport flows between Tallinn’s Old City Harbour and Helsinki’s Jätkäsaari harbour as well as improving the passengers’ customer experience. The work is conducted with various smart mobility experiments such as “park and ride” and control of heavy traffic. The plans also include improvements in the connections from the harbours to the airport in Helsinki and to the ring road in Tallinn. The partners in the project are the cities of Helsinki and Tallinn and their subsidiaries as well as the Estonian Road Administration.
Tunnel initiative moves forward
FinEst Link is a project in which 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 Ministry of Transport and Communications investigate the conditions for implementing the proposed Helsinki–Tallinn railway tunnel from technical, economic and social perspectives. The Helsinki–Tallinn connection forms a part of the North Sea–Baltic Corridor, which is one of the EU’s TEN-T Core Network Corridors. The ports of Helsinki and Tallinn received significant funding in 2015 to improve the connection.
The fast Rail Baltica railway connection from Tallinn to Poland is projected to be complete in 2025, after which the travel time by rail from Tallinn to Warsaw will be 4 hours and 15 minutes. One of the goals of the FinEst Link initiative is to enable a smooth connection from Finland to the future rail service.
The Memorandum of Understanding now signed will be implemented by a working group comprising representatives of the partnering cities, ministries, and regions. The working group will promote projects and report on their progress. In addition to investigating the new connection, the main themes of cooperation in 2016 will be a public transport journey planner, car parking and the development of a joint travel card for the cities.
The cooperation will strive for openness, and all interested parties will be invited to join the discussion and to participate in project-related events. More information on the events will be available on the project’s website in the spring.
Information on the progress of the initiative and research conducted in connection with the initiative is available on the FinEst Link’s website at www.finestlink.fi.
Information on a development project at the ports of Helsinki and Tallinn: http://satamauudistuu.fi/en