Public transport in Finland – what has changed over the years?  

By Whim • August 16, 2022

Public transport in Finland is among the best in the world. Mobility is safe and clear in every season of the year. Regularity and the cleanliness of the vehicles are also things that passengers appreciate.

The structural change in mobility took place in Finland later than in the rest of the Europe. In the 1970’s urban planning was strongly driven by the proliferation of private motoring. In the last decades public transport has strongly been developed to reduce CO2 emissions and to dismantle urban bottlenecks.

Today, public transport can be used all over Finland and many different means of transport are used in largest cities. But what was the public transport like in Finland before?

Tram traffic in Finland – the newest one in Tampere is warmly welcomed

Over the years there has been tram traffic in Helsinki, Turku and Tampere. Tram traffic also operated in Viipuri in the early 20th century. The first electric tram railroad was introduced in Turku in the early 20th  century. The most popular period for the tramway was seen in the 1940’s. Trams were discontinued in 1972 when buses took over Turku public transport.

The return of the tram traffic to Turku has been planned several times in the 21st century. The new high speed railroad system has been estimated to cost over 420 million euros. It is considered possible to implement this plan, but questions have been raised about the funding of the project. According to the original plan the high speed railroad system should be completed to Turku in 2029.

In Helsinki tram traffic has been part of street view for over 100 years. Tram line network in the capital is used by almost 57 million passengers a year and it has 11 different lines. 

The newest entrant in tram traffic is in Tampere. In August 2021 tram traffic was introduced in the city with two different lines. The railroad systems known as Tampereen Ratikka currently includes 28 stops. By 2024, the second phase of the project should be completed which will further expand the operating area of Tampereen Ratikka. Today Tampere public transport is diverse and efficient.

Train traffic in Finland – along the Kehärata to the airport

Trains started to operate in Finland in the late 19th century. The first railway connection opened between Helsinki and Hämeenlinna.

The first locomotives were steam powered. Trains were only little faster than a horse ride with maximum speed being approximately 25 kilometers per hour.

Over the years trains have changed for more energy efficient, less polluting and significantly faster. The rail network is also diversified. Today, the length of the railroad network in Finland is about 6000 kilometers.

One of the most significant changes in train traffic over the last few years has been Kehärata. This railway track was completed in 2015 and it connects Vantaankoski line to the Finnish main line. The new section also opened a train connection to Helsinki-Vantaa airport, which has been a significant renovation for tourism.

The metro in metropolitan area – anniversary year in Helsinki

Metro is Finland’s fastest and the most frequent operating means of transport. 2022 is a big anniversary year for the metro, because it has been 40 years since the opening of the Helsinki metro.

Passenger traffic on the Helsinki metro began 1.6.1982 between Rautatientori and Itäkeskus. New metro stops were opened at the steady pace in the late 20th century. The newest of the Helsinki metro stops is in Kalasatama and it was opened in 2007. 

It may come to surprise for many, but there is also a metro station in Munkkivuori, which is not in use. In the 1960s, the metro station was planned in connection with Munkkivuori shopping center, which would have provided a rail connection to Helsinki city center. Even today it is unclear why the project was not completed.

Until 2017 the metro only operated in Helsinki area. After the opening of Länsimetro, the metro line expanded to the Espoo side raising the number of metro stations to 25 in total. At the moment it is possible to take the metro from Matinkylä to all the way to Vuosaari and Mellunmäki.

What does public transport look like in the future?

Public transport in Finland has developed enormously over the years, but the development has not stopped. Major projects are planned all over Finland to further improve the functionality of public transport.

The so-called Pisararata (“drop track”) has been planned to Helsinki since 1990’s. The name of the project comes from the drop-like shape of the planned track section. Pisararata would run underground the Helsinki city center and it would be utilized by commuter trains. The aim of the track section is to free up capacity for long-distance trains and facilitate transportation in the Helsinki city center area. The final construction decision for the project has not been made yet.

Another significant project in the Helsinki metropolitan area is Raide-Jokeri. Raide-Jokeri will be a fast rail line between Itäkeskus and Keilaniemi. The new rail connection will replace the bus line number 550, which is the busiest one in Helsinki. In total, Raide-Jokeri will contain 34 pairs of stops and it is estimated to be completed in 2024.

The metro network in Helsinki area is also expanding. The second phase of Länsimetro is expected to be completed in 2023, when the metro network will grow with five new stations. The western end-station of the metro will be located in Kivenlahti.

Itärata is a construction project which is estimated to be completed in the 2030’s. Itärata will run from Helsinki to east and will connect a large part of Eastern Finland for high speed connections. The final route has not been decided yet, but if it is completed, Itärata will make it easier to travel from Eastern Finland to Helsinki-Vantaa airport and St. Petersburg.

A globally significant construction project is Helsinki-Tallinn railway tunnel. If completed, the tunnel would connect Finnish railways to the Baltics and thus to the whole of Central Europe.

The importance and role of public transport in people’s life will increase even more in the future. The growth of urban population and the mitigation of global warming are the main reasons why public transport must be constantly developed.

Various construction projects related to public transport and services like Whim make everyday life smoother.
With Whim application you can travel around Finland easily and in environmentally friendly way. Download the app to your phone and explore Länsimetro, for example. The longest escalator in Finland can be found along one of the new stops. But do you know which stop?

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