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Helsinki metro extension now more than a year late

Commuters hoping to take the city metro west into Espoo will have to wait a bit longer than planned. The company responsible for bringing in the now-controversial westward expansion of the capital metro line announced on Friday that the line will be ready for use in September, more than a year after the original start date.

Tapiolan asema 10. helmikuuta. Image: Jarno Kuusinen / AOP

Länsimetro Oy, the company driving the westward metro expansion project from Helsinki to Espoo, announced Friday that it was pushing back the expected start date of service from August to September. The company, which is owned by the municipalities of Helsinki and Espoo, said that testing and official assessments of the track would take place in June.

"The western metro will be ready for use as soon as we receive final approval. According to my estimates, metro traffic can begin in September," said Länsimetro chief executive Ville Saksi.

The company’s board, which is composed of officials and politicians from Helsinki and Espoo municipalities, met on Friday morning to discuss the timetable. The troubled project has seen massive cost overruns – reaching up to 200 million euros over budget – and an ever-shifting schedule from the original August 2016 start date.

The last time the company reviewed the schedule was at the end of January, when experts speculated that the track would be technically ready for use in June this year.

However Helsinki Regional Transport, who has the final say on commissioning, said that actual traffic would only begin in mid-August – one year later than planned. HSL is responsible for operating the metro service on the line.

On Tuesday this week, HSL said that it was not expecting any traffic on the westward line expansion this summer. CEO Suvi Rihtiniemi has been given the authority to continue a system of compensatory bus service until summer 2018.

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