Helsinki to Tallinn Tunnel
The Helsinki to Tallinn Tunnel is a proposed undersea tunnel that would span the Gulf of Finland and connect the Finnish and Estonian capitals while bypassing Russia. The tunnel's length would depend upon the route taken; the shortest distance across would have a submarine length of 50 km, making it the longest undersea tunnel in the world. The tunnel could open after 2030 by earliest and would cost an estimated €9–13 billion.
The project is largely being pushed forward by the mayors of Tallinn and Helsinki, Edgar Savisaar and Jussi Pajunen respectively. Both cities have promised €100,000 for preparatory studies, though the relevant ministries of each country have refused to grant any funding. An application is now planned to the EU to gain the additional funds needed for a comprehensive survey, estimated to cost between €500,000 and €800,000. On 13 January 2009, newspaper reports suggested the application to the EU, through the Interreg programme, for comprehensive surveys had been denied. An expert at the City of Helsinki's International Affairs department suggested this may have been because of political tension within Estonia, between the national administration and the City of Tallinn, both controlled by rival political groups. Nevertheless, both cities are said to be considering funding the surveys themselves.
On April 2, 2014, it was announced that a €100,000 preparatory survey named TalsinkiFix will assess whether a more comprehensive profitability calculation should be done. The European Union will cover 85 per cent of the survey costs and the cities of Helsinki and Tallinn and the Harju County will pay the rest. This is the first official survey about the tunnel.
The results of the preparatory survey were released in February 2015. The cost of the tunnel was estimated to be €9–13 billion and the tunnel could open at earliest after 2030. The survey recommended the tunnel to be built for railway connections only with the traveling time between Helsinki and Tallinn being half an hour by train.
Cost and benefits
The initial cost of the tunnel itself varies, from around one billion Euros for a freight-only tunnel, to many billions of Euros if passengers were to travel in it. The economic benefits would be significant, both in terms of increased connections and economic integration between the two cities (Copenhagen and Malmö have been offered as examples), but also in a wider context of convenient passenger train connections between Southern Finland and the Baltic States, and a fixed link for freight from across Finland on to the planned Rail Baltica, thus providing a rail freight connection with the rest of Europe. Geopolitically, the tunnel would connect two close but separated parts of the European Union in an environmentally friendly way, removing the need to travel through Russia, or to use air or sea transport.
The present passenger travel situation is that travel between Helsinki and Tallinn is done by ferries and fast passenger boats (at least a dozen departures per day and direction), and to some extent by air. Travel between Finland and Central Europe is mostly done by air and less by ferry to Sweden and train or road through Sweden, or even less by ferry to Tallinn and bus or car further south. Freight transport between Finland and the Baltic countries or central Europe is mostly done alongs roads, and fairly little by train. Overland travel or transport between Finland and Estonia through Russia is rarely performed.
- Usko Anttikoski. "Fixed transport connections across the Baltic from Finland to Sweden and Estonia. Preliminary feasibility assessment." 2007.
- "Emerald, Vision 2050" Greater Helsinki Vision 2050 – International Ideas Competition. 2007.
- Ilkka Vähäaho, Pekka Raudasmaa. "Feasibility Study, Helsinki–Tallinn, Railway Tunnel" Geotechnical Division of the Real Estate Department of the City Of Helsinki. 2008.
- Jaakko Blomberg, Gunnar Okk. "Opportunities for Cooperation between Estonia and Finland 2008" Prime Minister’s Office, Finland. 2008.
- Mike Collier. "Helsinki mayor still believes in Tallinn tunnel", The Baltic Times, April 3, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-05-13.
- "Helsinki-Tallinn Rail Tunnel Link?", YLE News, 28 March 2008. Retrieved on 2008-05-13.
- Kaja Kunnas (April 2, 2014). "Junatunneli Helsingistä Tallinnaan maksaisi miljardeja euroja". Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). Retrieved April 2, 2014.
- Pre-feasibility study of Helsinki–Tallinn fixed link (Sweco, february 2015)
- Moilanen, Anne (11 February 2015). "Esiselvitys: rautatietunneli Helsingin ja Tallinnan välille kannattaisi". Yle Uutiset (in Finnish). Retrieved 11 February 2015.
- Preliminary Plan for the Helsinki-Tallinn Tunnel from 1997, Helsingin Sanomat, August 19, 2008.
- Olli Keinänen. "From fantasy to vision: towards planning of Helsinki-Tallinn railway tunnel" City of Helsinki, International Relations, Finland, 2009.