Finland will invest 1.3 billion euros on rail infrastructure over the next ten years, Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka announced at a press conference on Thursday morning.
The most significant projects include plans to reduce travel time between Helsinki and the cities of Turku and Tampere to one hour, as well as the Espoo city line.
Harakka added that the 1.3 billion euros investment does not yet include private money, with the state contributing just under 800 million euros to the cost of the projects and municipalities making up the difference of just over 500 million euros.
Further investment will be required, as establishing the project companies responsible for planning and financing the Turku and Tampere ventures could cost as much as eight billion euros alone.
"This is exactly the size of climate project that is needed, if we want to convince our European partners that we are serious about climate protection," Harakka said, but added that plans for the Turku and Tampere railway projects have not yet been finalised.
This decision will be made at a later stage by the project companies that are currently being created.
Competition will be open
Harakka also revealed at the Thursday press conference that domestic passenger rail traffic will be opened to competition from other transport companies, ending VR's monopoly, by the beginning of the next government's term, at the latest.
"We already have competition in freight transport,” the minister said.
The most competitive passenger routes are likely to be Helsinki to Tampere, Helsinki to Turku and Tampere to Oulu, Harakka added.