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Govt, local authorities agree on high speed rail projects

Published : 14 Feb 2020, 21:50

Updated : 16 Feb 2020, 00:09

  DF Report

Photo source: VR Group

Central and local government authorities have reached agreement on establishing project companies for promoting the Finland Railway link and the high-speed rail link between Helsinki and Turku as well as on the financing shares of the parties involved. 

Financial support for both projects has been applied through the EU's Connecting Europe Facility, said a government press release.

The project companies would be responsible for the planning related to the projects and its funding until the construction phase.

"I am very pleased that the planning of these projects can be started and that so many municipalities have committed themselves to the projects. High-speed rail connections facilitate commuting and are absolutely necessary in the transfer to sustainable modes of travel. The agreement now reached will also make it possible to apply for financial assistance for the projects from the EU already during the present call for applications that will be closed at the end of February," says Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka.

In order to be able to establish the project companies in cooperation with the central and local government, negotiations on shareholders' agreements of Finland Railway and Helsinki-Turku high-speed rail link were started in November 2019 under the leadership of the Ministry of Transport and Communications. The negotiation groups were attended by a representative of the Ministry of Finance. Participants in the negotiations on Finland Railway also included Finavia.  Now an agreement on the content of the shareholder agreements has been reached among the parties, and the negotiation result has been confirmed in memorandums. 

The final adoption of the shareholder agreements and the establishment of the project companies still call for the central and local government to take the matter to their decision-making bodies.  In terms of central government, the matter will be discussed at the Ministerial Committee on Economic Policy in March 2020.

With the present agreement, it is possible to apply for financial assistance for both projects through the EU's Connecting Europe Facility in the current call for applications. The call for CEF Transport 2019 was opened on 16 October 2019 and will be closed on 26 February 2020.

The Ministry of Transport and Communications has also initiated a comparative study on the routing of the high-speed eastern connection. That rail link will be promoted in cooperation with the operators in the area.