16.12.2019 14:03:18 //
Emilia Kullas
Matti Rajala

The Port of Helsinki serves the whole country

Finland is the land of a thousand lakes and dozens of ports. The largest and most commercially significant port is in Helsinki. The Port of Helsinki radiates economic wellbeing throughout the country.

That's why downtown Helsinki traffic arrangements aren't only a concern for locals – they affect the entire country.

Should a traffic tunnel be built in central Helsinki? What are the pros and cons of the tunnel project? And what about the price tag?

We don't know, because planning for the central tunnel was halted in October by Helsinki politicians from the Green Party, Left Alliance and Social Democrats. This is a dreadful decision not only for Helsinki residents but also for the rest of the country.

Ports are traffic nodes. About half of all the bulk cargo traffic in Finland passes through the Port of Helsinki. Helsinki likewise accounts for about half of the tonnage of all truck and articulated trailer transport.

When it comes to passenger traffic, Helsinki accounts for approximately 80 per cent of traffic between mainland Finland and abroad.

Mandarins make their way to Rovaniemi and other Arctic stores via Helsinki.

It would therefore have been extremely important for Helsinki city politicians to have shown greater responsibility and a desire to work in the interests of the whole country and not just their own city. 

The central tunnel deserved a proper cost analysis, and yet the entire project was shelved at a meeting of the Helsinki Urban Environment Committee.

Finding a solution to these traffic problems has now been postponed for years.

Central Helsinki is already congested and traffic volumes will only increase with future population growth. It is already difficult to unload cargo and passenger ships at the West Harbour.

The Port can attempt to steer heavy traffic away from the centre with the aid of pricing, but shifting cruise ships elsewhere is not a sensible solution.

Passenger ship traffic is part of the Helsinki cityscape. Cruise ships and ferries to Sweden bring tourists to the city, and their money creates a lot of service jobs.

Ports are nodes, but they will cause traffic jams without well-functioning traffic arrangements. And that’s in no one’s best interests.

The author is the Director of the Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA.