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History of HKL

HKL started its operations as a municipal enterprise in 1945.

From horses to Artic trams

The first trams were drawn by horses. Public transport in Helsinki started in 1888, when horse-drawn omnibuses started to operate between Töölö and Kaivopuisto.

In 1900, electricity was introduced as the power source. The first electric tram started to operate on the line between Töölö and Hietalahti in September of the same year.

At first, the operator was a private company, Helsingin Raitiotie- ja Omnibusosakeyhtiö (HRO, Helsinki Tram and Omnibus limited liability company). From 1913, the City of Helsinki was the main shareholder of the company. In 1944, the city bought the assets of HRO, and Helsinki City Transport (HKL) was founded in 1945.

HKL was also in charge of the city’s bus transport up until 2010, when the bus operations were transferred to the Helsinki Region Transport (HRT) municipal federation.


The most usual tram types in the Helsinki transport are domestic articulated tram tramcars (series NRV I and MLNRV II) made in the 1980s and Variotram low-floor tramcars manufactured by Bombardier at the end of 1990s and the beginning of 2000s.

In summer 2013, a completely new tram type was introduced in Helsinki; a domestic Artic tram manufactured by Transtech Oy. This type of tram has been specifically designed to meet the requirements of Helsinki’s tram network and the Nordic climate. Its structure, with pivoting bogies, can manage the tight turns and steep hills of Helsinki’s line network. The whole tram is equipped with a low floor and LED lighting. Recovered braking energy is utilised in heating. The drivers have LCD screens, and rear-view mirrors have been replaced with cameras.

From the East Helsinki metro to the Espoo metro

Metro traffic in Helsinki was launched in August 1982. At that time, the metro travelled between Rautatientori and Itäkeskus. The network grew gradually. For example, it extended to Ruoholahti in 1993 and to Vuosaari in 1998. Kalasatama metro station was opened in 2007.

Planning of the west metro, from Ruoholahti to Matinkylä, began in March 2007, and the Council of Espoo approved the underground metro plans in January 2009. The construction was delayed by over a year due to complaints filed about the underground plans for metro tunnels and stations. The work was started in early summer 2010 by excavating the work tunnels.

Metro trains upgraded for automated driving

The first metro series in Helsinki was the M100, equipped with an induction motor and controlled by frequency converter.
The oldest M100 series carriages from 1977 were designed, built, and tested simultaneously with the first metro track. The most recent M100 carriages were built in 1984. Excluding the six oldest prototype carriages, the whole series was renovated between 2004 and 2009, which increased their service life by about twenty years.

The M200 series was introduced at the turn of the 21st century. For the passenger, the most significant difference between the new carriages and the old ones is the access between one pair of carriages and the next.

An upgrade process was launched for both the M100 and M200 series’ metro trains after 2010 in order to prepare them for automated driving, as the decision on the automation of metro traffic was made in connection to the construction of the west metro.

The M300 series trains acquired by the west metro and any other extensions are from the Spanish rolling stock manufacturer CAF. A new subway line from Ruoholahti to Matinkylä was opened on Saturday 18.11.2017. The line will continue at five more stations when the line from Matinkylä to Kivenlahti is completed.