Neglecting the main line risks bringing Finland to a halt
The next parliamentary elections in Finland are due to take place in the spring, and frantic lobbying efforts are already underway to secure support for a wide variety of infrastructure projects. What we need now is public investment that will drive job creation, investment that will allow both people and goods to move around the country more efficiently and investment that will support projects in line with Finland’s ambitious climate targets.
If we are serious about delivering wide-reaching infrastructure development that offers benefits not just to one region but to the whole country,the next government’s legislative programme must include a commitment to upgrading and repairing the main railway line and eliminating bottle necks in the capital and elsewhere. This means developing the route between Helsinki and Tampere to cut journey times to under one hour and building a new secondary line for the busy route between Tampere and Seinäjoki. The main line is also linked to a series of local lines, and it is important to ensure that travellers from these areas can reach Helsinki in under two hours. Priorities include creating a joined up branch line between Jyväskylä and Tampere, reducing the number of level crossings between Seinäjoki and Vaasa and increasing the number of junction stations. Level crossings on the line connecting Tampere and Pori will also need to be eliminated along with other changes designed to allow faster line speeds.
Money spent on the main line is money well spent that has the power to deliver improved rail links across Finland. Increased capacity would mean that local services could be introduced in areas that currently lack them entirely or where additional capacity is required. If we fail to deliver faster line speeds along the main line, we will not be able to increase speeds anywhere on the network. Sections of the main line are already in a poor state of repair and failing to meet demand, leading to significant financial losses. I am sure we are all agreed that we can simply no longer afford to continue like this. Faster journey times and more punctual services will also make train travel more attractive to people. This in turn allows them to make more sustainable and environmentally friendly decisions.
The European Union has classed the Finnish main railway line from Helsinki to Tornio as a key network corridor. This means that Finland can now access EU funding for the purpose of upgrading the main line. The main line links Tornio with a Swedish rail line running along the Bothnia Bay. This line will form part of the same key network corridor with the Finnish main line. It would be extraordinary for Finland not to take swift and decisive action on this issue.
Railways, and the main line in particular, have played a key role in Finland’s success. Historically, it is responsible for revolutionising travel, allowing Finland to become and industrial nation and for driving economic growth. We want to make sure that the main line continues to play this key role in the future.
This statement has been signed by the mayors of regional councils of the Päärata+ area and mayors from the cities served by the main line.
Hyvinkää Jyrki Mattila mayor
Hämeenlinna Timo Kenakkala mayor
Jyväskylä Timo Koivisto mayor
Pori Aino-Maija Luukkonen mayor
Riihimäki Sami Sulkko mayor
Seinäjoki Jorma Rasinmäki mayor
Tampere Lauri Lyly mayor
Vaasa Tomas Häyry mayor
Etelä-Pohjanmaa Antti Saartenoja s. regional mayor
Kanta-Häme Anna-Mari Ahonen regional mayor
Keski-Suomi Tapani Mattila regional mayor
Pirkanmaa Esa Halme regional mayor
Pohjanmaa Kaj Suomela regional mayor
Satakunta Asko Aro-Heinilä a. regional mayor
Uusimaa Ossi Savolainen regional mayor