The Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications has concluded a study into a proposed Arctic rail line and decided to take forward the Oulu-Rovaniemi-Kirkenes route to the Arctic Ocean.
In July 2017, the ministry 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 routes.
According to the study, the route via Oulu, Rovaniemi and Kirkenes will improve Finland’s logistical position, accessibility and security of supply by providing an alternative route to the Baltic Sea and also become 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 will open up a new connection to the Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Passage.
The Tromso and Kirkenes routes also include the highest number of potential passengers, mainly consisting of tourists. According to the study, the route via Kirkenes is also less expensive.
The overall cost of the route via Kirkenes is estimated at €2.9bn (£2.6bn). The cost of the Kirkenes route will be €2bn on the Finnish side and €0.9bn on the Norwegian side.
Finland Minister for Transport and Communications Anne Berner said that the Arctic railway will create a closer link between the northern, Arctic Europe and continental Europe.
A joint working group will determine the further stages and schedule of the work on the route to Kirkenes.
Other routes examined were Tornio-Narvik, Kolari-Narvik, Kolari-Tromso, Rovaniemi-Kirkenes and Kemijärvi-Alakurtti-Murmansk. One alternative based on the use of high capacity transport vehicles was also examined.
Norway Minister for Transport and Communications Ketil Solvik-Olsen said: “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).”
The group will examine key questions such as environmental issues, permit procedures, costs and finance structure and model.
The deadline for the group’s work is 31 December 2018.
Additional studies on the route will be included in the work on regional plan for Northern Lapland.