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FinEst Link

Helsinki-Tallinn: two competing tunnel projects

The choice is between a project forged by the two cities, and a private project by the founder of Angry Birds.

Ten years ago, an undersea tunnel between Helsinki and Tallinn would have been dismissed as laughable. Now there are two competing consortiums with a tunnel plan, the Estonian newspaper Postimees writes.

Only one of them will eventually be successful and start construction. The choice is between the FinEst Link project forged by the two cities and countries, and the private project of Angry Birds founder Peter Vesterbacka with the name FinEst Bay Area.

Both projects were on the table at a joint sitting of Estonian and Finnish governments held in Tallinn earlier this month.

The newspaper writes that, unlike with Rail Baltica, there is now considerable interest in Estonia in a tunnel and, for now, there have been no protests against such a project.

Ferry traffic between the two neighbouring capitals totals more than nine million passengers a year. FinEst Link estimates that by 2050, without a tunnel the number of travellers will grow to 14 million, or 23 million with a tunnel – 12.5 million tunnel users and 10.5 million by ferry.

How soon?
One of the main differences between the two projects is the estimated construction period – 15 years according to FinEst Link, and as soon as 2024 according to startup guru Vesterbacka, who says: “We cannot spend five or six years on planning. We will do a lot of things simultaneously”.

FinEst Link would dig only from the Finnish side. Vesterbacka would dig in six locations at the same time.

Both projects would create two artificial islands from the granite and other materials extracted from the ground.

The support of the governments of both countries makes it more likely the FinEst Link will get the go-ahead, but this project has not yet secured public or private financing. The European Commission, meanwhile, wants nothing to do with any tunnel until Rail Baltica is completed.

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