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Limited transport infra budget repairs only most acute faults

The Ministry of Transport has announced plans to fix up Finland's road, rail and waterway networks to the tune of 600 million euros - just a fraction of the estimated 2.4 billion euro transport repair deficit that experts say has accrued over the last two decades.

miehet levittävät asfalttia ja perässä tulee tiejyrä
Image: Kalle Kultala

A 2014 ministry working group estimated that 2.4 billion euros would be needed if Finland hoped to update its deteriorated transport infrastructure to an acceptable condition, but times are hard and all branches of the public sector are having to make do with less. The Ministry of Transport has deemed that 600 million euros for use in 2016-2018 will have to do as a start.

A supplementary 100 million will be added to the repair budget already this year, but Minister of Transport Anne Berner says more would have been welcome.

“This first instalment will only put a stopper in the overall state of disrepair, but it won’t make a dent in the deficit. But we have to deal with the realities,” she says.

More than half of the overall sum, 325 million euros, will be devoted to road repair. The largest road repair project in the near future will be the Jännevirta bridge in Kuopio, just one of hundreds of bridges and roads on the list. The second major project will take place in Lapland, where motorway 21 will be improved, along with an 'intelligent road system' test area - the first of its kind in Finland. 

Major repairs are also planned for the railway network, and 223 million euros have been set aside to address railway infrastructure, for example, faulty tracks switches and safety devices that have been the source of many delays during the winter months.

A further 12 million euros will be devoted to renewing locks along the eastern Saimaa Canal waterway that links Lake Saimaa with the Gulf of Finland near Vyborg, Russia, among other projects.

Antti Vehviläinen, Director General of the Finnish Transport Agency, is satisfied with the money received but laments that restricted funding means only the most acute needs will be addressed.

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