Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Govt mulls rail route from Rovaniemi to Arctic Ocean

09 Mar 2018, 23:06 ( 9 Months ago) | updated: 10 Mar 2018, 10:17 ( 9 Months ago)

DF Report
Source: Finnish Transport Agency.

The Ministry of Transport and Communications has decided a railway routing to the Arctic Ocean via Oulu, Rovaniemi, said an official press release.

The possible route through Kirkenes is the one option that will be examined further.

The possible rail routes would improve Finland's logistical position, accessibility and security of supply. Of the two leading alternatives, the routing via Kirkenes was also less expensive.

"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," said Minister of Transport and Communications Anne Berner.

"We wish to continue the excellent Norwegian-Finnish collaboration and look forward to contribute to the working group exploring further options regarding the Artic railway route from Rovaniemi to Kirkenes (Kirkenes)," said Norway's Minister of Transport and Communications Ketil Solvik-Olsen.

Last July the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications commissioned the Transport Agency to carry out a study on the Arctic rail line together with the Norwegian transport authorities. The Transport Agency assessed the implementation and financial feasibility of five different routing alternatives.

"All the alternatives are technically feasible. However, there was a lot of variation in terms of financial aspects and environmental impacts, " said Director Matti Levomäki from the Transport Agency.

The examined routing alternatives were Tornio-Narvik, Kolari-Narvik, Kolari-Tromsø, Rovaniemi-Kirkenes and Kemijärvi-Alakurtti-Murmansk. One alternative based on the use of High Capacity Transport vehicles was also examined.

The report said that the Arctic railway would improve Finland's logistical position and accessibility as well as promote connections with the whole of Europe. It would be an alternative transport route to be used in Finland's imports and exports. The deep-water ports of the Arctic Ocean that are ice-free throughout the year would also open up a new connection to the Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Passage.

The Tromsø and Kirkenes routings were found to include the highest number of potential passengers. Passenger transport volumes would mainly consist of tourist transport that is expected to continue throughout the year in the future.

The Arctic railway would also improve security of supply in Finland, because Finland would have access to an alternative route to the Baltic Sea.

The overall costs of the rail lines vary between EUR 0.7-7.4 billion. Investment costs to be incurred on the Finnish side would be from EUR 0.02 to 2.3 billion.

The overall costs of the routing via Kirkenes are estimated at around EUR 2.9 billion, if the line will go from Rovaniemi via Sodankylä to Kirkenes. The overall costs of the routing from Kemijärvi via Sodankylä to Kirkenes would be EUR 2.8 billion. The investment costs of the Kirkenes routing would be around EUR 2 billion on the Finnish side and around EUR 0.9 billion on the Norwegian side.

Once further studies are commenced, guidelines for interaction with the Sami Parliament and the research work to be completed according to the Act on the Sami Parliament are to be agreed. An Akwé: Kon process in accordance with the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity should be included in the work on the regional plan for Northern Lapland or carried out as a separate assignment. The purpose of the process is to examine the effects of the rail line and train transport on the Sami people and culture. In addition to the Sami Parliament, the question of the Kirkenes line will also be discussed with the Skolt village meeting.

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

The group is to examine the key questions relating to the chosen routing, such as environmental issues, permit procedures, costs, and finance structure and model. The deadline for the group's work is 31 December 2018.

Further studies on the routing will also be included in the work on regional plan for Northern Lapland.


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