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Friday’s papers: On-the-spot fines to double, more airport train woes, and the cost of a cold summer

The government hopes it can tackle growing numbers of road deaths and boost revenue by doubling the size of fines handed out on the street for low-level offences. Elsewhere, there are stories of delays on the new Helsinki airport rail link, an ice-cream fairy, and a look at the true impact of this summer’s unseasonal temperatures.

Henkilöauton kuljettaja loukkaantui kolarissa Haminantiellä, kun farmariauto ajoi kovalla vauhdilla päin
Henkilöauton kuljettaja loukkaantui kolarissa Haminantiellä, kun farmariauto ajoi kovalla vauhdilla päin. Image: Sasu Mäkinen

The big story in this morning’s Aamulehti is that fixed penalty notices for traffic and other on-street offences will double from this September, in an attempt to boost road safety and the state’s coffers at the same time. Motorists stopped for low-level offences, such as moderate speeding, and driving without a seatbelt or while using a mobile phone, can now find themselves slapped with a fine of between 20 and 200 euros, compared to the current range of 10 to 115.

Currently 30,000 of the tickets are given out each year, the paper says. They can also be imposed for crossing the road on a red man, or for vandalism or urinating in a public place. The government hopes it will generate an extra 20 million euros in revenue.

The announcement comes as new statistics show the number of road deaths in Finland went up this year compared to 12 months ago, the paper says. 114 people have been killed so far this year, compared to 95 in the first six months of 2014. Most of the victims were inside cars.

The Finns Party’s Justice Minister, Jari Lindström, tells Aamulehti that just this Thursday he was driving in the rain and noticed other motorists speeding past him. “There are still people in a hurry to get to their own funeral,” he says.

Train woes

Helsingin Sanomat, meanwhile, leads with a feature from its correspondent in Greece on the Athenians who are quitting the city for a cheaper life in the country. Its other top story is that trains on Helsinki’s newly unveiled circle rail connection, linking the town centre and the airport, have run on time only two days out of the 24 for which the service has now been open.

A series of serious technical faults on the main line – which also links Helsinki and the north – have been mostly to blame, a spokesman says. But there’ve also been settling-in problems and the capital’s transport authority HSL – having previously blamed its drivers for the delays – says it will be fine tuning the service in August.

But, the paper says, HSL admit that if the tweaks fail to smooth the bumps in the service, then they may have to increase journey times. This is unlikely to go down well with airport travellers – and airlines – who’ve complained that the suburban rail link already stops at around a dozen small, suburban stations on its journey between the centre and the airport, meaning the journey is in practice no shorter than the existing bus links.

HSL have also promised to address the complaints from tourists that ticket machines are almost completely absent from the service, with only one to be found at the central station, and only one at the airport – located by the bus stop.

Ice-cream joy

Inside, Hesari also tells the story of an ice-cream fairy, who this summer has been gifting scoops of Finland’s perennial favourite to children and adults alike. Pirkko-Liisa Makkonen, a Helsinki doctor, fell asleep on a bench in the well-to-do suburb of Munkkiniemi after a draining night shift, and was woken by two concerned young women. Makkonen says she was so touched by this display of caring that she gave 500 euros to a nearby ice-cream kiosk, to pay for free ice-cream all round until the money ran out.

That cash has now gone, but the joy she got from her good deed has, the paper said, inspired Makkonen to plan a second, similar act, this time involving a travel firm in Hauho. She hopes others will also follow suit – “Fight against indifference,” she urges.

The price of (no) summer

Iltalehti dedicates this morning’s first three pages to what could well be the most talked-about story of the summer – that is, of course, the lack of summer. The paper explores the many knock-on effects of the coldest mid-year temperatures for half a century. The list takes in lower ice-cream sales, theme park visitor numbers down, air-con units and electric fans piling up in Gigantti stores (last year they flew off the shelves faster than the firm could buy them in), seasonal workers laid off.

There’s been an impact on nature too, the paper says, with bird populations suffering and needing to find more food this summer to keep warm. But perhaps there’s also a plus side – the cold lake waters have kept mosquito numbers down, and stopped the spread of the dreaded blue-green algae, which so often clogs up the nation’s favourite swimming spots.

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