21 Nov 2016

Seminar debates fixed connection between Helsinki and Tallinn

Gunnar Okk, NIB Vice-President (in the middle) at the seminar on the future Helsinki-Tallinn transport link

A potential fixed Helsinki–Tallinn connection and smaller-scale innovations in the current traffic flow across the Gulf of Finland between the two cities were the focus of a seminar held in Helsinki on 21 November. NIB’s Vice-President, Gunnar Okk, participated in a panel discussion at the event.

Examining opportunities to improve traffic between the two capitals, divided by the Gulf of Finland, was initiated by the local authorities of the Finnish and Estonian capital cities and two countries’ transport ministries. One of the proposed solutions, the construction of a 90-kilometre tunnel for rail and road traffic between Helsinki and Tallinn, has so far received most attention from the investor community and the public.

The Mayor of Helsinki, Jussi Pajunen, said in his opening speech that the idea of building a fixed link, a bridge at that time, was debated as far back as 1871, a short while after Helsinki, still very small, had acquired the status of capital city.

“Already then there was a vision of combining the strengths of the two cities. This has always been a powerful dream to build a connection between the two cities—in fact, the two nations”, said the mayor of the Finnish capital.

“People are voting in favour of the twin-city concept, which involves at least half of the population on each side of the gulf.”

In Mr Pajunen’s opinion, the idea of building a fixed link between the capitals of Finland and Estonia is becoming more and more realistic. “Ten years ago, people smirked when the idea was brought up. Now, every new decision is bringing it closer to reality. Travelling between Helsinki and Tallinn in 20–30 minutes—everyone understands it!”

NIB’s Vice-President, Gunnar Okk, shared the vision of the fixed connection and called for an economically sound approach to this investment project.

“This connection is much more than just a transport link. It will connect the two nations and their daily life, not just the cities. We should dream big, while still making sure that the calculations are realistic and precise. A project of this magnitude would require to be bankable as well”, said Mr Okk at the seminar.

Mr Okk was invited to participate in the panel that debated the socio-economic effects of the Helsinki–Tallinn link. Other panellists were Deputy Mayor of Helsinki Pekka Sauri, investor Peter Vesterbacka and researcher Kristi Grišakov.

The two-year project launched by the two cities in autumn 2016 will conduct comprehensive assessment of the future fixed link between Helsinki and Tallinn from the perspectives of technology, economy and competitiveness.

Read more about the project here