The Finnish Transport Agency’s current set of railway projects will improve traffic flow in southern Finland. As a result of work on the tracks, speed limits will be imposed, causing regrettable delays. This is a necessary evil, according to the Finnish Transport Agency.
“Our current projects include improving the efficiency of the Helsinki railway yard and the Helsinki–Riihimäki line. We are also building an additional western track and a new station platform in Pasila, as well as upgrading safety equipment on the Riihimäki–Tampere line”, said Pekka Petäjäniemi, Director of the Finnish Transport Agency’s Project Implementation department.
Railway transport is a means of serving expanding areas of employment and meeting the mobility demands of the increasing number of inhabitants in the Helsinki metropolitan area.
“The growing number of passengers requires modes of transport that are smoother and faster, and we are meeting these demands with the current investment in railways amounting to over 300 million euro”, said Petäjäniemi.
Projects on the main line
The project to increase the efficiency of Helsinki railway yard (HELRA) will improve operations and reduce the railway yard’s vulnerability to disruption. Currently, 74 trains per hour operate between Helsinki and Pasila at peak times. Upon completion of the HELRA project, this capacity will increase to almost 90 trains per hour, resulting in an increase of 200 trains per day. The project will be completed in 2020, costing 60 million euro in total.
The project will affect traffic in the Helsinki metropolitan area this summer because the outermost tracks on the Helsinki–Pasila line will be alternately out of service due to the work on the Helsinki railway yard. More detailed information will follow.
The Helsinki–Riihimäki line project is being carried out in two phases. During the first phase, freight transport to Vuosaari was transferred onto a separate track in Kerava. The project includes constructing another track between Ainola and Purola, as well as updating the functionality of Riihimäki railway yard and elevating the platforms to meet current requirements. The project will also reduce vulnerability to disruption and achieve more flexible services and more punctual trains. In Järvenpää, the renovation of the station area will improve passenger services, including a new bus terminal to provide feeder transport to town residents.
The works carried out in the first phase of the project will cost 150 million euro and the project will be completed in 2020.
The project to build an additional western track involves building a new track and station platform in Pasila. The new 1.5 km track section will significantly reduce traffic on the main line. The western track project is being carried out on the same site as Tripla, the new centre of Helsinki, in Central Pasila. Construction work began in autumn 2015 with piling of bridges connecting to Pasila railway station. The new track will be open to traffic in 2019 and fully operational in 2020. The total budget for the project is 40 million euro.
As part of the project to upgrade Riihimäki–Tampere safety equipment, safety devices at the end of their life-cycle will be completely replaced. This will be done to reduce the trains’ vulnerability to disruption and to ensure safe and fast transport.
“The work will be completed at the end of 2018, when the new safety equipment will be used. The most significant traffic disruption will occur from mid-September until the week before Christmas”, said Project Manager Juha Lehtola.
The project area is 110 km and the total cost of the project will be 59 million euro.
Impact on passengers
The Helsinki region and the Riihimäki–Tampere line are among the busiest railway lines in Finland. When track works are carried out in these areas, any disruption will have far-reaching effects on traffic in both the Helsinki metropolitan area and also from Tampere northwards.
“Regrettable travel delays will primarily be the result of speed limits imposed on the main line for track works. Speed limits are imposed to ensure safe working conditions when trains are passing by the work sites”, said Track Work Coordinator Juha Kröger.