The national airport operator, Finavia, supports the idea of a direct rail link between Helsinki Airport and Tampere. The company’s new CEO, Kimmo Mäki, brushes aside concerns that such a train line would hurt Tampere-Pirkkala Airport. He points out that the regional airport has its own international traffic and is also actively used by the Finnish Air Force and for aviation training.
The state-owned Finavia, formerly the Civil Aviation Administration, says a rail link to Tampere would be “extremely worthwhile” and an excellent addition to Helsinki Airport’s services and transport offerings. Last year nearly 19 million passengers used Helsinki Airport, a new record.
Mäki tells Yle that such a train service would not take anything away from Tampere-Pirkkala – which Finavia also operates – but that everyone would benefit from improved transit connections.
The rail link would allow passengers to travel from Tampere and other regional centres to the nation’s main international airport faster, without switching trains. Pirkkala Airport is to be renovated next summer at a cost of 15 million euros.
“A new rail line would offer people in the Pirkanmaa an alternative way to travel to Helsinki Airport, and some might change from one form of transport to another,” suggests Mäki. Tampere, the nation’s third-largest city, lies 170 km north of Helsinki Airport, which is in the neighbouring municipality of Vantaa.
Early days yet
Mäki notes that the air link is still in the planning stages, and that passengers can travel from Tampere to Helsinki Airport by switching trains in Tikkurila, the business centre of Vantaa. A direct link would cut an estimated 20 minutes off the travel time.
Finavia operates 21 airports, but sees rail connections as having an important role for shorter distances. Short-haul travel by air causes much higher emissions per passenger than by rail. As a result, the European Commission, for instance, encourages the use of trains for trips of less than 400 km.
Last weekend, Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori, Tampere Mayor Lauri Lyly, Finnair CEO Pekka Vauramo and State Railways VR chief executive Rolf Jansson issued a joint statement backing the proposed Helsinki Airport rail link, saying it would be Finland’s most important transport investment in the near future, and critical for the whole country’s transportation network and economic growth. They called for an accelerated timetable for the project.
“Growth in traffic on both the main national rail line and in air traffic make the plan realistic. Besides, Tampere is already a busy rail hub,” Mäki said.