Work on a long-anticipated rail line that would link Finland's network with the Swedish border town of Haparanda will begin once funding is secured, the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency said on Monday.
The project will electrify the Laurila-Tornio-Haparanda section of the network, thereby opening up a cross-border rail connection between Finland and Sweden.
Haparanda station reopened for passenger trains in March this year after a 29-year break, offering connections to long-distance trains in the south of Sweden.
The transport agency's project manager, Terhi Honkarinta, said that plans are expected to be completed during the coming winter with the aim of receiving final approval by next summer.
"According to the current schedule, construction will start no earlier than the end of 2022. Most of the work will take place in 2023 and 2024," Honkarinta said in an agency press release.
The project aims to improve the cost-effectiveness of rail transport for industry as well as enable rail passenger traffic between Finland and Sweden as part of the trans-European TEN-T network.
In addition to electrifying the line, the project will also build safety equipment required for cross-border traffic, make changes to railway bridges as required by electrification, and modify passenger facilities at Tornio rail station.
Total estimated cost is 24m euros
The project is a cooperative venture between the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, Finland's National Emergency Supply Agency (NESA) and the Swedish Transport Administration Trafikverket.
The line would be an important route for ensuring Finland's security of supply, NESA's Preparations Manager Outi Nietola said, explaining that in the event of a serious disruption to sea transport between Finland and Sweden, a land route would help to keep essential goods coming into Finland.
"In the government's decision on the security of supply objectives, the operating logistics services and networks have been identified as special priorities when it comes to securing the operational capacity of critical infrastructure," Nietola said.
The overall estimated cost of the project is 24 million euros, of which the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency share is 10 million euros, NESA's share is 10 million euros and the Swedish state's contribution is 4 million euros.