Well-functioning harbours are of crucial importance to Helsinki residents, the area economy and travel and tourism. Port of Helsinki, the City of Helsinki Urban Environment Division and the Helsinki City Executive Office’s Economic Development have engaged in extensive collaboration to develop harbour transport and traffic, especially at the West Harbour. The City of Helsinki now applies a number of new measures to tackle related challenges.
Transport-related investments and land use planning always go hand in hand in Helsinki. Simultaneously, Helsinki ensures that all modes of transport and the level of competitiveness of the transport sector required by the area economy are taken into consideration.
“The Helsinki City Strategy stipulates that active measures be taken to develop the logistical connections of businesses and traffic arrangements that improve economic competitiveness. Ensuring better traffic flows at the West Harbour in particular plays a key role in these efforts,” says Helsinki Economic Development Director Marja-Leena Rinkineva.
West Harbour tops the development agenda
Harbour traffic represents only about 10 percent of the total traffic volume of the West Harbour area, but traffic peaks occurring several times a day present a challenge.
“Our city planners and Port of Helsinki experts have investigated various approaches for easing traffic flows. One measure already implemented is additional lanes on the streets of Tyynenmerenkatu and Länsisatamankatu, which ease both incoming and outgoing traffic flows. We are now looking for other planning solutions, especially for Länsilinkki, that is, the juncture of Jätkäsaarenlaituri and Mechelininkatu,” says Mikko Aho, Executive Director of the Urban Environment Division.
Aho continues, “It’s important to keep in mind that the harbour brings benefits to the development of the overall area of Jätkäsaari. Owing to the harbour, the residents of Jätkäsaari can enjoy an exceptionally broad range of services. For example, the area has been served by trams from the first stages of development. The tram network will expand in the next few years.”
Traffic volumes are a challenge, as they have grown faster than anticipated in the city plan for the area. The significant growth in vessel sizes and its effect on traffic peaks were also not anticipated in the planning stage.
“We have introduced a dynamic pricing system based on the peak periods of the day, and our goal is to direct growth from the West Harbour, and from the South Harbour, too, to slower periods and to the Vuosaari Harbour. In addition, the remaining truck traffic in Jätkäsaari will be directed to Tyynenmerenkatu, that is, to the eastern sections of Jätkäsaari, instead of the western sections of the area. This measure will further improve resident comfort and ease traffic flows,” says Port of Helsinki CEO Ville Haapasaari.
The goals with the measures are to improve public transport, driving and cycling connections to all Port of Helsinki harbours. In addition, West Harbour traffic flows will be eased with the help of various smart systems, for example, to control traffic lights and to provide such information to drivers that helps them to take the best route to the harbour. Improved public transport ticketing and pricing systems will support the projected growth in sustainable modes of transport. Helsinki Region Traffic HSL already offers a public transport day ticket that is combined with the ferry ticket.
Significant EU funding until 2023
The Port of Helsinki is Finland’s biggest general port and one of the world’s busiest passenger ports. More than 12.3 million passengers passed through the port in 2017. The busiest of the port’s passenger harbours is the West Harbour, as the main harbour serving the Helsinki–Tallinn route. Vessels on that route carried more than 9 million passengers in 2017, and the growth trend is expected to continue.
The City of Helsinki and Port of Helsinki have together applied for and have been granted significant CEF/TEN-T support funding by the European Union, especially for the overall investments to develop the West Harbour in 2012–2023, a total of 43.1 million euros.
A precondition for the EU funding is advancement of land and sea connections serving the Helsinki–Tallinn sea route as part of the pan-European transport network. The measures defined in the funding plan include improvements in the West Harbour transport connections and removal of existing traffic bottlenecks.
These goals are also supported by the Twin-Port 3 project, which extends to 2023. The project has been granted a total of 21.4 million euros of EU funding. The partners in the Twin-Port 3 project are the Ports of Helsinki and Tallinn, the City of Helsinki and the shipping companies Tallink, Viking Line and Eckerö Line. The total costs of the transport and traffic development in the scope of the project are 71.2 million euros.