The 18-kilometre Ring Rail Line, with its new stations, will make daily travel easier for tens of thousands of people living, working and visiting Finland's capital Helsinki, when it opens in 2014
The Ring Rail Line is a railway route under construction in the area of the city of Vantaa, in the Greater Helsinki Metropolitan Area of Finland.
The new 18-kilometre line will run cross-town from the Vantaankoski line to Hiekkaharju on the main line via the airport. It will connect numerous residential and commercial areas, and significantly improve public transport in the entire region while providing a much-needed rail link to Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport. Helsinki is currently in the exceptional position of being one of the few European cities without such a link. This shortcoming will be corrected when the Ring Rail Line goes into operation in 2014.
In addition to infrastructure, the project includes new stations together with street arrangements and park-and-ride facilities, a travel centre in Tikkurila and major road work such as the development of the Hämeenlinna motorway in Kivistö, the centre of the Marja-Vantaa district.
The Ring Rail Line took decades to plan. Currently the main cross-town highway is Ring III, whose traffic jams have stimulated debate as well as frustration for years. The Ring Rail Line will reduce the need for bus and car traffic in Vantaa and allow park-and-ride services for people coming from farther away. The outcome will be a reduction in environmental impacts due to traffic, thus promoting the EU's climate policy objectives.
Construction of the new line began in May 2009 with the excavation of access tunnels in the Ruskeasanta and Aviapolis districts and at the airport. The line will run part of the way in a tunnel with twin tubes, so excavation proceeded at four points in each contract. When the line is completed, the access shafts will be used for maintenance purposes and serve as emergency exits.
The Ring Rail Line tunnel will be eight kilometres long. Tunnelling was divided into four contracts, three of which started in October 2009 and the fourth in 2010. The line will pass beneath Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport, which presents special challenges.
Two new stations are being built underground: Airport and Aviapolis.
The tunnel will have connecting corridors at intervals of about 200 metres. In an emergency these can be used to access the other tube. Emphasis has been placed on operational safety in planning and implementing the project.
Ten kilometres on the surface
Construction of the surface portion of the line began in autumn 2010 and will last until 2013. Two new stations will be built in the first stage of the project, at Kivistö and Leinelä. Space has also been reserved for four additional stations: Vehkala, Petas, Viinikkala and Ruskeasanta. These will be built at a later stage.
A total of 36 bridges and ramps will be constructed in the project, with the biggest bridges crossing the River Vantaa and the main line.
With trains running in a loop, rail capacity can be utilised more efficiently. New Sm5 low-floor commuter trains will operate on the Ring Rail Line, with services at 10-minute intervals in both directions during peak periods.
The journey from the centre of Helsinki to the airport will take about half an hour. The line has been designed to allow a maximum speed of 120 km/h.
Passengers coming on long-distance trains from the north will be able to change trains in Tikkurila. The journey time from Tikkurila to the airport will be eight minutes.
Environmental art plan
When the Ring Rail Line was planned, the City of Vantaa set requirements regarding the use of art along the line. Finland's first environmental art plan was devised for this purpose, with stations as the primary focus.
In June 2010 the Committee for the State Art Collection invited entries for a competition that was arranged to procure a work of art for the Airport Station on the Ring Rail Line. The winning entry, which was submitted by Aarne Jämsä, has women's hemlines as its theme. Shortly after the competition was announced, the artist headed for Paris and no doubt received inspiration from the charming ladies in the French capital.
Efficient station and feeder traffic arrangements
Station platforms will be 230 metres long, which is big enough for three Sm5 train sets in combination. Surface stations will be accessible using covered stairs and lifts. The Kivistö station will also have escalators.
Tunnel stations have been designed for clarity and openness to provide a space where people can move about safely and easily find their way and give directions. Connections to the surface will be via escalators and lifts.
Bus terminals are planned for the Vantaankoski and Kivistö stations, and space has been reserved for a terminal in Ruskeasanta as well. The busiest terminal will be in Kivistö, which will have park-and-ride facilities for about 250 cars in the first stage.
All in all plans call for the construction of park-and-ride facilities for about 500 cars at stations in the first stage of the project, plus parking for bikes. The number of parking spaces will be increased later on if necessary.
Plans call for noise barriers over a distance of about 1.3 kilometres and the isolation of structure-borne noise over a distance of more than three kilometres.
Street arrangements around the Kivistö station are being planned in connection with the development of the Hämeenlinna motorway between Ring III and Keimola. Plans include a new interchange, among other things.
The old Hämeenlinna road (Vanha Hämeenlinnantie) will be rerouted and will be designed and landscaped to give it a more urban look and reduce speeds. High-standard bus stops will be constructed next to the motorway, and noise barriers will reduce environment impacts.
The cost estimate for the Ring Rail Line project is 605 million. Financing has been divided between the Finnish state (419 million) and the City of Vantaa (186 million). The project will receive about 17.8 million of TEN-T cofinancing from the EU.
The Ring Rail Line project is being conducted under the direction of the Finnish Transport Agency, with the City of Vantaa and Finavia Corporation as partners.
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