Finnish businessmen are proposing a new possible scheme for financing the construction of the tunnel between the capitals of Finland and Estonia. In the event that both countries approve this proposal, the project implementation may start as early as next year and will not require state budget expenditures. About this, according to RBC, the business publication Hufvudstadsbladet told Peter Vesterbaka, who previously ran the Finnish company Rovio and was one of the creators of the game Angry Birds.
The project of a cargo-and-passenger railway tunnel between Helsinki and Tallinn began to be discussed in 2008, it was proposed by the then mayors of the two cities. He did not receive support from the central politicians of Finland and Estonia, as well as the EU leadership. However, the attitude towards the project has changed in connection with the construction of the high-speed railway line Rail Baltica, which will connect Tallinn, Riga, Kaunas, Warsaw and Berlin. The report on Rail Baltica should begin in the mid-2020s. It is assumed that the tunnel could become an integral part of the railway line.
Vesterbaka considers the project to be technically feasible through the use of Chinese tunneling technologies: “We do not see insuperable technical difficulties, and the project can be completed by the beginning of the 2020s, and not in the 2030s, as previously thought.” For the construction will require 12 tunneling machines from China at a cost of 30 million euros. According to Westerbaki, these machines should become a European “tunnel factory”, as they can be used for similar projects that are expected to be implemented in other countries. “China implements large infrastructure projects around the world, so it’s no surprise that they are also interested in building the Helsinki-Tallinn tunnel,” says the Finnish businessman.
The tunneling works are supposed to be carried out simultaneously in two branches of the tunnel, each diameter must be 17 m. “This is more than required, but is built to meet future needs,” says Vesterbaka. According to his plan, the railway communication will be carried out at four stations, with stops near the airports of Helsinki and Tallinn: “We want to demonstrate that Finland has ceased to be an island, and we have contacted the rest of Europe. And the airport of Helsinki, on the other hand, becomes accessible to the inhabitants of Tallinn. ” When using Chinese or Japanese trains that move at speeds of about 350 km / h, the route from Helsinki to Tallinn will be about 20 minutes.
On private money
The creator of Angry Birds estimates the cost of building the tunnel at 15 billion euros, but does not involve the use of money from European taxpayers: “This is a completely private project, we are not looking for funds from the state budget or EU infrastructure funds. We intend to optimize all stages of construction and ensure the rapid completion of the project, which is an important way to save, “- explains Vesterbaka. The project should pay off within 37 years due to transportation of passengers and cargo. The price of a passenger ticket is about 50 euros. Vesterbaka admits that the pool of investors has not yet been fully formed, but its foundation will be Chinese capital.
The Finnish businessman is sure that the railway will take on a significant part of the cargo that is transported by ferry today, while building a separate tunnel for motor transport is inexpedient: “Automobile traffic will decrease in the future.”
As reported by RBC Petersburg, a feasibility study of the Helsinki-Tallinn railway communication project was also performed by Sweco, specializing in consulting in the field of construction of infrastructure facilities. Sweco estimated the costs of the construction of the tunnel at 9 – 13 billion euros with a payback period of 35-40 years. According to the idea of Sweco, the project should be implemented on the basis of public-private partnership. At the same time, 40-50% of investments should be attracted from the state budgets of Finland and Estonia, as well as from EU infrastructure funds, and the remaining money will be provided by private companies.
Source: Maritime News of Russia