Get ready to think big. The most ambitious transportation project of all time is coming to a city near you. Just imagine what a massive underwater rail tunnel and super-fast connections through Europe could do to your life. We’re already working on it.
Northern Europe is about to be connected by a major logistics artery “Rail Baltica.” The route – currently still a spotty and uneven collection of national rail legs – will provide a smooth and unified corridor from Berlin potentially all the way to the Arctic Ocean.
It will, among many other things, provide the emerging Arctic region with a direct route to the population of 503 million in the European Union and push growth along it. The booming mining industry in the north of Finland would be another direct beneficiary.
To say the business community is supportive would be an understatement. Many industries see Rail Baltica as a game-changer.
Jyrki Ovaska, President of the Paper Business Group at UPM and a board member of AmCham Finland says:
“Paper is a very sensitive product. It gets easily damaged during transportation and reloading at ports. By rail, paper can be transported closer to the consumer with fewer handlings.”
“With Rail Baltica, it is likely that a large part of our shipments leaving Finland towards Central and Eastern Europe would switch to rail transport.”
The same is of course true for various other products.
Rail Baltica will also accelerate the joining of Helsinki and Tallinn at the hip; they already form an inter-twined twin-city area of 1.7 million people.
One of the most intriguing questions is, in fact, how the connection will be made: the cities are after all divided by the Gulf of Finland – an 80-kilometer or 50-mile waterway.
“A rail tunnel would be the best option for us,” says Jyrki Ovaska and presumably speaks for the large majority working in the region.
“But a faster rail link from Tallinn to Warsaw would already open up a new alternative transport route, especially to Eastern Europe.”
On February 15, business leaders and city officials from Helsinki and Tallinn gathered in Helsinki to voice their support for Rail Baltica and discuss the plans for a rail tunnel. The event was hosted by AmCham Finland, AmCham Estonia and Nordea Bank.
“We have seen it time and time again: a major connection – a railroad, air route, bridge, tunnel – has the power to change the destiny of a market,” Kristiina Helenius, C.E.O. of AmCham Finland said.
“We are already at the center of an exciting regional hub. Rail Baltica with a tunnel connecting Helsinki and Tallinn are the kind of leap forward our market needs now.”
The new rail connection will have an effect on the entire economy around the Baltic Sea. The European Union is one of the funding partners of the Rail Baltica project.
The Finnish-Swedish company Stora Enso, another forestry industry powerhouse, transports almost all of its manufactured products as sea freight. Similarly, raw materials and chemicals are imported by boat.
“Loading and reloading add costs. If shipping were to become uncompetitive, we’ll have to identify alternative arrangements,” Jorma Westlund, the company’s director of public relations says,” Jorma Westlund, the company’s director of public relations says.
“Rail Baltica would be a viable solution.”
Many other industries are also already eyeing the possibilities Rail Baltica’s rail tunnel would enable. Private citizens could travel quickly and ecologically, whether for business or pleasure.
There is wide agreement that the new connection will truly provide the business opportunity of a lifetime. Stay tuned to how Rail Baltica will make your world bigger and better.