Helsinki Mayor Jussi Pajunen’s faith in the planned train tunnel between Helsinki and the Estonian capital of Tallinn has not faltered. Last week the EU-funded Interreg programme declined to grant EUR 800,000 for studying the feasibility of a rail link between the two cities, Railway Market said.
- Now would have been a good time to launch the basic examination of the matter, - Pajunen says.
According to Pajunen, the cities are now contemplating whether to use their own funds to carry out the study or to apply for some other EU funding for the purpose. The matter is not of the utmost urgency, for the launch of the train connection would under no circumstances take place in the next ten years.
The Helsinki-Tallinn train connection is part of the Rail Baltica plan, which means a fast, upgraded train connection between St. Petersburg and Berlin.
Pajunen believes that at first the trains will be transported across the Gulf of Finland from Tallinn to Helsinki by a train ferry and that the tunnel will be constructed later.
The EU’s negative decision with regard to granting funds for the project was a disappointment to Helsinki. Helsinki city officials speculated last week that the decision may have something to do with Estonian domestic politics.
The funding was decided on by an administrative committee that consisted of representatives from Finland and Estonia. The Estonian government’s influence was believed to have shown up in the voting of the Estonian representatives.
Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar by contrast represents the country’s Centre Party, which opposes the sitting government. Merike Niitepõld, head of the Southern Finland - Estonia Interreg IIIA Programme, denies that the Estonian government would have been involved with the case.
In Niitepõld’s view the project was discarded simply because it did not line up with the programme’s objectives, and because Interreg money is not granted for one-off studies.