Ussimaa Regional Council votes to restrict Tallinn tunnel options

Developers say it will add years to the Tallinn tunnel project to build through the centre of Helsinki, where there haven't been full feasibility studies carried out yet.

Graphic showing two tunnels with train tracks / Credit: Finest Bay Area Helsinki

The Uusimaa Regional Council has voted 44-32 to restrict options for a planned tunnel to Tallinn.

Councilors could have kept exact details of the tunnel’s route flexible while giving it the overall green light as part of the region’s 2050 development plan.

However the council decided on Monday that the only option for the tunnel must be to build it through downtown Helsinki – despite a lack of detailed studies showing whether it’s even feasible from an environmental, technical or geological perspective.

“This is a limiting solution, not an enabling one” says Kustaa Valtonen, one of the developers from Finest Bay Area company which has secured funding promises for the full €15 billion cost of the tunnel project.

“However, this does not mean the end of the tunnel project, but a slowdown” says Valtonen, who recently told News Now Finland that aligning the tunnel through Helsinki would add a six or seven year delay to the project.

Private developers say it makes sense to build a new transport hub just west of the capital where there is room for expansion, as the region grows and spreads out over the next 30 years, and that their preferred option of an alignment through Espoo at Keilaniemi-Otaniemi meets the need for growth as well as fits the technical and geological criteria for building.

The route through Espoo has already been costed and planned, with international architects expressing their interest in building some of the stations. A route through Helsinki however would mean building two tunnel systems under the capital: one high speed link from Tallinn Airport to Helsinki Airport in Vantaa; and a second tunnel system for domestic trains going from Helsinki to Tampere via the airport.

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