The EU awarded Finland a total of 58.3 million euros for five rail projects in the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) funding application round, the Ministry of Transport and Communications said in a press release.
Funding was awarded to the one-hour Helsinki-Turku rail link, railway design and construction engineering for the Espoo urban railway, improvement of the Pasila-Riihimäki track, improvement of the rail connection between Kouvola, Kotka and Hamina, and the development of rail transport services between Oulu-Laurila-Tornio-Haaparanta.
In addition, the EU supports projects involving the ports of Helsinki and Naantali.
The Connecting Europe Facility Coordination Committee made its decisions on funding to be awarded on 16 July 2020. The total amount of funding granted by the European Commission amounted to almost 2.2 billion euros.
"I am very pleased with the sum awarded to Finland, which is one of the biggest ones we have ever received in the CEF application rounds. The proposed rail projects in different parts of Finland provide effective means to support climate recovery. Projects will be launched as early as in August," says Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka.
The purpose of the funding granted by the European Commission is to promote investment in the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). National funding is an eligibility requirement, and the State has made a commitment to provide financing to all rail projects awarded CEF funding.
The Finland Railway project was not granted CEF funding in this application round, but this will not affect plans to set up a project company or to move ahead with the rail section design engineering. The application only covered a small part of the overall design engineering, and the project company to be established will actively participate in all future funding applications.
The Vantaa light rail line was also not granted funding at this stage. However, a decision was made regarding the division of the Vantaa tram line planning costs in negotiations on land use, housing and transport (MAL) between the Helsinki region and the State in June 2020, and the lack of CEF funding will have no effect on the outcome.
Rail transport and port projects
One-hour Helsinki-Turku rail link
Funding of 37.5 million euros was granted for the development of rail transport services between Helsinki and Turku. The total budget for the planning project is 75 million euros.
The Helsinki-Turku connection is an important part of the Scandinavian-Mediterranean Corridor of the TEN-T core network. The current rail line between Helsinki and Turku is slow and winding.
Project funding will be used to design a "shortcut" between Espoo and Salo, which would shorten the Helsinki-Turku line. It would also enable faster long-distance service between Helsinki and Turku, and improve commuter rail services to Kirkkonummi, Lohja and Vihti. Planning work also includes a double track section between Salo and Turku to enable an increase in the number of services and to make passing easier.
A project company will be set up to expedite the planning work. In June, the Government authorised the establishment of project companies for the one-hour Helsinki-Turku rail link and the Finland Railway projects.
Espoo urban railway
A total of 11 million euros was awarded for the design and construction engineering of the Espoo urban railway. The total budget of the project is 22 million euros. The project includes railway, bridge and tunnel engineering.
A decision was made regarding the implementation of the Espoo urban railway and the division of costs in negotiations on land use, housing and transport (MAL) between the Helsinki region and the State, according to which both the State and the municipalities contribute 50% of the project's implementation costs.
Funding of 6.5 million euros was granted for the improvement of the rail section between Pasila and Riihimäki. The total budget of the project is 13 million euros.
The implementation of this project is a prerequisite for improving the rail services between Helsinki and Tampere.
An agreement was reached in negotiations on land use, housing and transport (MAL) between the Helsinki region and the State on the implementation of the second phase of the Pasila-Riihimäki track.
Kouvola, Kotka and Hamina
Funding of 1.68 million euros was granted for planning improvements to the Kouvola-Kotka-Hamina rail connection. The total budget of the project is 3.36 million euros.
This rail section is a major freight route between Kouvola and the Ports of Kotka and Hamina in the Scandinavian-Mediterranean Corridor of the TEN-T core network. The rail capacity utilisation rate is high, and the current infrastructure does not permit a significant increase in rail transport.
Funding of 1.6 million euros was granted for the development of the Oulu-Laurila-Tornio-Haaparanta railway line. The total budget of the project is 3.2 million euros.
The area is a nodal point of international transport corridors, and part of the ongoing extension of the North Sea-Baltic Sea core corridor in the Bothnian Arc from Oulu to Luleå.
The project aims to improve rail transport performance and enhance the competitiveness of industry, and to provide passenger rail transport services between Finland and Sweden.
The Ports of Helsinki and Naantali, together with their Baltic Sea partners, applied for CEF funding of 12.37 million euros.
Funding was sought for improving energy efficiency in ports, for an automooring system (an automatic vessel anchorage system), shore-side electricity, alterations in ship loading and unloading ramps, and a shore-to-ship passenger transfer system for those travelling without a vehicle. The Coordination Committee was in favour of providing funding for these projects.
The purpose of the projects is to make transport safer, more efficient and more environmentally friendly. They also aim to reduce ship emissions during their stay in ports and to reduce the time needed for loading and unloading. Ports included in the TEN-T core network are required to have shore-side electricity systems in place by the end of 2025.
Projects must be launched no later than on 26 August 2020 and be completed by 31 December 2023.