The government has given the green light to state-supported firms that will prepare for two major rapid rail projects, known as the One-hour Turku-Helsinki Rail Link or the One Hour Train (Tunnin juna (siirryt toiseen palveluun)) and the Finland Railway (Suomirata (siirryt toiseen palveluun)).
The project companies will be responsible for planning and financing the ventures until construction is ready to start, the Council of State said on Tuesday.
In mid-February, negotiators for the state, municipalities and airport operator Finavia reached a deal on setting up the project companies, including how the costs will be divided.
The state then announced that it will apply for funding from the European Commission for the planning process of the One-hour Turku-Helsinki Rail Link and the Finland Railway, as well as for planning of the Espoo city rail link, improving the Pasila-Riihimäki track and the Vantaa Tram.
Alternate Tampere routes
The Finland Railway firm is to produce studies on two alternative routes: a new direct rail link between Helsinki Airport and the inland city of Tampere and an upgrade of the existing main line between Riihimäki and Tampere.
The cost of the high-speed rail connections between Helsinki and the cities of Tampere and Turku is estimated at 5.75 billion euros.
The state has agreed to provide up to 51 percent funding for the project firms at this stage.
The municipalities and Finavia are to approve their shares of the funding by April. The companies will then be established as quickly as possible, according to the statement.
The cabinet's Ministerial Committee on Economic Policy gave the nod to the establishment of the two new companies on Tuesday.
It agreed that the state, represented by the transport minister, will approve contracts with the minority partners to set up the firms.
The current Minister of Transport and Communications is Timo Harakka of the Social Democratic Party. In December, he took over the post from Sanna Marin when she unexpectedly became prime minister.