Trams in Finland

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Variotram in Helsinki, 2011.
NWF/AEG tram no. 118 on line H in Helsinki, 1951.

Trams in Finland date from a horse-drawn Turku tramway network, which opened in 1890. Electric tramway traction started in Finland in 1900, and the horse-drawn trams last operated in 1917.

Although there were three Finnish tramway networks between 1912 and World War II, the number of networks had dwindled to just one, in Helsinki, by 1972. Since then, the Helsinki network has remained Finland's only tramway network. However, there have been, and still are, a number of proposals to set up new networks, in the form of light rail, elsewhere in the country.

History[edit]

Helsinki[edit]

Main article: Trams in Helsinki

In Helsinki, horse trams operated between 1890 and 1900, and again between 1913 and 1917. Since 1900, electric trams have operated there.

For part of its existence, the Helsinki tramway network has been supplemented by trolleybus systems in Helsinki (1949–1974, and on a trial basis 1979 - 1985) and nearby Tampere (1948–1976).

Valmet RM 2 no. 49 on line 1 to the harbour at Market Square in Turku, 1959.

Turku[edit]

Main article: Trams in Turku

In Turku, there were horse trams from 1890 to 1892, and electric trams from 1908 to 1972.

Turku tram traffic was abandoned in 1972, when the last remaining tram line was replaced by buses.

The arguments against the Turku tramway were associated with the 1960s view that trams were an outdated mode of transport. Buses were seen as modern technology, and trams as old-fashioned.

The decision to close the Turku tramway network can also be seen in part as inspired by events in Stockholm, which had closed most of its tramway network a little earlier.

Locally built tramway locomotive (with AEG traction motors) in Vyborg, 1940.

Vyborg[edit]

Main article: Trams in Vyborg

Trams began running in Vyborg, then in Finland, in 1912. They were electrically operated right from the beginning.

Following the cession of the city to the Soviet Union during World War II, the tramway network remained in service until 1957.

Table[edit]

City Article Propulsion Period Rail gauge

(mm)

Livery
Older Newer
Helsinki Trams in Helsinki Horse 1891–1901, 1913–1917 1,000
Helsinki Trams in Helsinki Electricity 1900- 1,000
Turku Trams in Turku Horses 1890–1892 1,435
Turku Trams in Turku Electricity 1908–1972 1,000
Vyborg Trams in Vyborg Electricity 1912–1939, 1943–1957 1,000

Notes:

  • There has been a horse-drawn tramway in Lauttasaari that belonged to the municipality of Huopalahti. Today, however, Lauttasaari is a suburb of Helsinki.
  • A few other places (Kulosaari, Haaga, Huopalahti and Helsinge municipality in the Helsinki region, and Kaarina and Maaria in the Turku region) have had a tramway that belonged to a larger neighbouring municipality.

Other tramways[edit]

Some narrow gauge Finnish railways with mostly or only freight traffic have been called "tramways".

These railways include a "freight tram" in Tampere (from Finlayson to Santalahti woodyard a few miles away, closed in 1957), the harbour railway in Lohja (Finland's first electric railway, from the state railway station to the port, including passenger services, closed in 1930), the railway in Mustio (a freight line from the railway station to the mill, closed in 1964) and Kyröskoski industrial railway in Hämeenkyrö (Finland's last narrow gauge industrial railway, closed in 1989).

Today[edit]

In Helsinki, there are eight to twelve tram lines, depending upon how they are counted. In August 2008, the first completely new line since 1976 entered service, when line 9 was opened from Kolmikulma to Itä-Pasila.

The Helsinki tramway network is being extended to Jätkäsaari south of Ruoholahti, and Laajasalo east of the city centre, through a series of bridges across the islands including Korkeasaari, where the line is to run through a tunnel under the Zoological Garden.

Projects[edit]

Helsinki[edit]

In the Helsinki region, there are also other plans to expand the network, through a larger project called Jokeri ("The Joker", after the playing card). This planned expansion, if constructed, would be the first real light rail line in Helsinki, and would involve the conversion of the current Jokeri bus line, line 550, into a cross city tramway similar to Stockholm's Tvärbanan.

The Jokeri line runs from the site of the proposed Länsimetro station at Aalto-yliopisto and Keilaniemi, Espoo in the west to the Itäkeskus metro station, Helsinki in the east. It also offers interchange with commuter rail services in Leppävaara, Espoo and Oulunkylä and Huopalahti, Helsinki.

Elsewhere[edit]

Light rail proposals[edit]

Additionally, there are proposals to introduce light rail in a number of Finnish cities, such as Turku, Tampere, Oulu, Pori, Jyväskylä, Kouvola, Pieksämäki, and also Espoo and Vantaa, cities belonging to Greater Helsinki. The latter places would probably have light rail systems compatible with the Helsinki tramway network.

Apart from the projects announced for Greater Helsinki, the proposals for Tampere and Turku are probably the most accepted.

Tampere[edit]

A light rail system has been planned for Tampere for several years, and it is an important element in the city region's structural model. The traffic plan was completed in 2010. It is planned that the first line (Hervanta–Centre–Lentävänniemi) will be built between 2016 and 2021.

Turku[edit]

In Turku, the newest light rail plan was approved as part of the Turku area public inquiry for the period to 2020. In December 2009, the Turku City Council decided that "light rail will be built for the routes that are heavily congested, when the financial plan and related conditions, and government financing and the proportions that the other municipalities within the region will pay for construction, have been agreed."[1]

There have also been proposals to build a heritage tramway in Turku that would run during the summer season along the Aura River between the Turku Castle and Martinsilta (St Martin's Bridge), and later also to the Market Square, in perhaps the most attractive part of Turku. The old tram depot (with a few old, restored cars in operating condition) is on Linnankatu, a stone's throw from the castle and the river. The route would be relatively short, and the tramway would therefore be relatively inexpensive to build. The Museum Tram initiative is pending in the Turku city administration, but has not been progressed since 2005.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Raitiovaunut palaavat Turkuun" (in Finnish). YLE. 15 December 2009. Retrieved 14 July 2010. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Trams in Finland at Wikimedia Commons

This article is based upon a translation of the Swedish language version as at October 2011.