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New delays threaten Helsinki's western metro extension

Neither of the main companies involved in the long-delayed launch of the Helsinki-Espoo metro line can now say when passengers will actually be able to use the service. The project was originally to have been ready by 2013.

Tapiolan asema 10. helmikuuta.
The Tapiola Metro station as it looked in February. Image: Jarno Kuusinen / AOP

The long-delayed West Metro linking Helsinki to southern Espoo was finally supposed to begin running in late September, but there may be further delays, according to newspaper reports.

The Länsimetro company, which is responsible for the implementation of the project, has not been able to hand over the system to Helsinki City Transport (HKL) last week as the metro stations' monitoring system and two stations were not ready, the Espoo newspaper Länsiväylä reported late Monday.

The local paper says that the start date remains a big question mark. Länsimetro board chair Olli Isotalo told the paper that he cannot say with certainty that traffic will even begin this year.

Blame game

Meanwhile HKL's chief executive Ville Lehmuskoski says that the whole metro revolves around the surveillance system, and the contractor is yet to supply it.

"In reality all the most demanding tasks require that the surveillance system works, and it isn't yet functional," said Lehumuskoski. "We're waiting for them. After that, preparations for taking the metro into use will get a new impetus."

"This is a stage that's still in progress and in which we're expecting diligent work from Länsimetro on this," said Lehmuskoski.

On Tuesday the daily Helsingin Sanomat reported that none of the organisations involved is now able to predict when the trains will actually begin running to Espoo.  It quotes Länsimetro CEO Ville Saksi as saying that that evaluation must be made by HKL.

Lehmuskoski, meanwhile, declined to give a more precise estimation of when the West Metro will start up.

"I'm not able to answer that, because it really depends on when Länsimetro gets the surveillance system operational," said Lehmuskoski. "The metro extension won't necessarily be delayed at all [from the currently projected start date of September 2017], it could be that it is delayed a little. Nobody can give a categorical answer."

1:29 pm: Original planned start date corrected from 2014 to 2013.

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