Potential route of €2.9bn Arctic rail line to be scrutinised after initial study

Photo: uduhunt / Shutterstock.com.
Photo: uduhunt / Shutterstock.com.

Finland’s transport ministry has completed an initial study into the country’s ‘Arctic railway line’ and plans to scrutinise one of the potential routes.

Researchers from Finland and Norway have looked at options to build a new railway to the Arctic Ocean, which would improve Finland’s logistical position, accessibility and security of supply.

Five routes were considered and, after assessing cost, predicted passenger numbers and socioeconomic and environmental impacts, further studies will be commissioned into the route from the city of Rovaniemi, Finland, to the town of Kirkenes, Norway.

Estimated to cost €2.9 billion, this route would branch northwards from the existing track at Rovaniemi and run through the Pyhätunturi and Luosto tourism centres to the municipality of Sodankylä.

The track would head to the resort village of Saariselkä, run through a long tunnel and, following around 40km of tunnels between the village of Ivalo and municipality Inari, it would head north-east from Inari and terminate at a new port in Kirkenes, Norway.

Planners say that the Arctic railway would promote connections with the whole of Europe by creating new transport connections to both the north (the Arctic Ocean) and south (the European rail network via the Helsinki-Tallinn Tunnel and Rail Baltica).

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It would also be an alternative transport route to be used in Finland’s imports and exports and improve the security of supply in the country because Finland would have access to an alternative route to the Baltic Sea.

The studies estimate that transportation on the Arctic railway would mainly include minerals, fish products, raw wood and wood products.

Finnish transport minister Anne Berner said: “The Arctic railway is an important European project that would create a closer link between the northern, Arctic Europe and continental Europe.

“The connection would improve the conditions for many industries in northern areas. A working group will now start to further examine the routing to Kirkenes.”

Around €2 billion of the Kirkenes route investment is expected to come from Finland and €0.9 billion from Norway.

Research work on the Arctic rail line will continue with Norway. A joint working group will be appointed to determine the further stages and schedule of the work.

The deadline for the group’s work is 31 December 2018.

Read more: Helsinki-Tallinn’s €20bn rail tunnel could be open by 2040