null State and local government negotiators agree to establish a project company to assist planning of the East Railway

State and local government negotiators agree to establish a project company to assist planning of the East Railway

Press release 21.05.2021 12.16 fi sv en

Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka (Photo: Ministry of Transport and Communications)

State and local government negotiators have reached an agreement on the establishment of a project company to assist in the planning of the East Railway.

The project company would be tasked with the planning of the railway project regarding the Helsinki Airport–Porvoo–Kouvola railway line and its funding up to the construction phase.

"We are incredibly pleased that the local governments have quickly found common ground with each other and with the state. With three railway project companies and a number of other joint projects, we have created a framework for permanent cooperation between regions and the state. We want to help strengthen the vitality and prospects of Eastern Finland,” says Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka.

“The negotiations on the establishment of the project company were carried out successfully under the leadership of the Ministry of Transport and Communications. The experiences from the previously established project companies and the constructive cooperation and shared goals between the parties enabled the negotiations on the East Railway project companies to proceed quickly and productively,” says Petteri Portaankorva, Development Director for the City of Kouvola.

“Other municipalities joined the negotiations while they were already in progress. It is really great that such a large and regionally representative group has seen the importance of the project and joined in. Local governments share a strong common will to promote the accessibility and vitality of eastern Finland,” Jarmo Pirhonen, Mayor of Kuopio, adds.

“The East Railway would transform Porvoo into a new railway city, connecting it to the railway network and strengthening the city’s growth potential as a hub within Eastern Uusimaa. Fast services to Helsinki and Vantaa would integrate Porvoo and Eastern Uusimaa in the development of the metropolitan area and its commuter belt," says Jukka-Pekka Ujula, Mayor of Porvoo.

Twenty-five local governments join the state in establishing project company

In March 2021, under the leadership of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, shareholder agreement negotiations were initiated in order to establish an project company in cooperation with the state and municipalities. In addition to the Ministry of Transport and Communications, those involved in the negotiations included local governments, the Ministry of Finance, and the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency. The appointed negotiators have confirmed that they have reached an agreement on the content of the shareholder agreement and the establishment of the project company.

Final approval of the shareholder agreement and the establishment of the project company is subject to the decisions of the negotiating parties in their respective decision-making bodies. The involvement of the state will be discussed by the Ministerial Committee on Economic Policy and at the government plenary session. However, Parliament will decide on the state's financial contribution and the use of the appropriation for the capitalisation of the project company.

In addition to the state, the project company is currently set to involve a total of 25 local governments.

The participating cities and municipalities are:

Porvoo, Kouvola, Helsinki, Lappeenranta, Kuopio, Mikkeli, Joensuu, Imatra, Pieksämäki, Varkaus, Kajaani, Iisalmi, Siilinjärvi, Lieksa, Kitee, Nurmes, Lapinlahti, Suonenjoki, Mäntyharju, Askola, Parikkala, Taipalsaari, Rautjärvi, Lapinjärvi, and Myrskylä.

A new rail link would shorten connections to the east

The aim behind the establishment of the project company is to aid in the planning of the railway link between Helsinki Airport and Kouvola.

The Helsinki-Kouvola railway link is one of Finland’s most important rail connections, and extensive needs have been identified for its development. The Helsinki Airport–Porvoo–Kouvola route would not only reduce travel times between Helsinki and Kouvola but also between Helsinki and Joensuu and Helsinki and Kuopio, respectively.

The route would also shorten the travel time for long-distance services from Helsinki and Helsinki-Vantaa Airport to the Savo and Karelian railway lines, speed up the service from Helsinki to St. Petersburg, connect Porvoo to the railway network as a completely new city, and enable an increase in train services towards the east and the development of commuter traffic towards Porvoo.

The role of the project company would also be to investigate the various operating models and the subsequent development potential for commuter traffic, as prescribed by the project.

The East Railway planning costs are estimated at EUR 79 million. The estimates construction costs are approximately EUR 1.7 billion. While planning was agreed on up to the construction phase during the recently concluded negotiations, the transition to the construction phase itself will require new negotiations.

The project company will be established as soon as possible after the necessary decisions have been taken and the shareholders' agreements have been signed.

In line with the previous decision of the Ministerial Committee on Economic Policy, the policy on the East Railway project company does not discount the possibility of the development of other transport links in the eastern regions in the future. The Ministry of Transport and Communications has requested that the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency carry out a study on the development of transport for business and industry in Eastern Uusimaa and southeast Finland, as well as on strengthening the competitiveness of the economy.

Enquiries:

Miikka Rainiala, Director of Unit, Ministry of Transport and Communications, tel. +358(0) 29 534 2051, miikka.rainiala@lvm.fi

Petteri Portaankorva, Development Director, City of Kouvola, tel. +358 (0)20 615 1287, petteri.portaankorva@kouvola.fi

Jarmo Pirhonen, Mayor of Kuopio, tel. +358 (0)44 718 2790, jarmo.pirhonen@kuopio.fi

Jukka-Pekka Ujula, Mayor of Porvoo, tel. +358 (0)40 352 2033, jukka-pekka.ujula@porvoo.fi