Frequently asked questions

Questions about the construction of Länsimetro phase one, Ruoholahti-Matinkylä section

When will the metro be opened for traffic?

According to current estimates, metro services may start in September 2017. Bus traffic will switch to feeder network routes and schedules in mid-October at the earliest. Until then, the South Espoo and Lauttasaari buses will operate on their current routes. The metro and current bus routes will operate simultaneously for some time before transferring to feeder traffic. HSL will decide when the services begin and when the transfer to feeder traffic is made. Fluent, reliable and safe public transport will be guaranteed for passengers at all times.

What kind of work is being done in the metro at the moment?

At the beginning of June, Länsimetro moved from the testing phase to the regulatory inspection phase. Once the inspections are completed, the stations and the rail line will be handed over to HKL (Helsinki City Transport HKL). After that, HKL will ensure the smooth maintenance and operation of the metro and its deployment before passenger traffic begins. The tests at the start-up phase are conducted to ensure the safety and reliable operation of the metro. Given the broad scope of the project, the regulatory approval stage is an exceptionally demanding large-scale task. No hand-over and inspection process of such magnitude is known to have been performed in Finland before. Work has progressed as planned during the summer. HSL will decide when the metro services begin and when the transfer to feeder traffic is made.

What do the regulatory inspections involve?

The Rescue Departments of Espoo and Helsinki will approve the security systems based on the test results. After this, the building authorities of Helsinki and Espoo will be able to approve the use of the stations and rail tunnels. Helsinki City Transport (HKL) will ensure that the track engineering security systems, including semaphore systems and indicators, are working properly. In practice, the building authorities have the task of approving hundreds of thousands of electronic documents. The rescue authorities inspect the metro system’s safety for their part.

Why is the construction project delayed?

It is delayed because not enough time had been reserved for the final work and commissioning stages. West Metro is not only Finland’s largest infrastructure project, but also a demanding building services and automation project. There was no experience of the extent of the commissioning stage of a project of this magnitude and complexity.

Unfortunately completing the metro will take much longer than originally estimated. The Länsimetro company’s objective is that once opened for service, the system will be safe and reliable. The entire construction organisation is working hard to ensure this.

What is tested before the metro is opened to the public?

Before the metro is opened to the public, tests and joint test runs are required to ensure that it runs as planned.  The suppliers of each system will test their systems before the final testing phase, i.e. the joint test run. The metro includes 52 different systems. In addition, Länsimetro is conducting operational trials. After this, the stations will enter the joint test run phase, which will take several days for each station. The joint test run will ensure that the metro is safe to use and that all systems interact smoothly. The joint test runs began at the Aalto University station in October 2016 and continued at other stations throughout winter and spring. Test runs were completed at Niittykumpu and Matinkylä at the end of May. Information about the project’s schedule has been communicated without delay as the testing has progressed, in the light of the knowledge available.

Why is the metro built?

The metro is an investment that forms a sustainable basis for growth caused by urbanisation far into the future. Fluent public transport contributes to creating an internationally competitive operating environment for Aalto University and the competence and knowledge-intensive companies and workplaces that rely on the Otaniemi science community.  By 2070, Espoo will grow by 70,000 new inhabitants. High quality public transport that enables everyday life to run smoothly creates preconditions for growth in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable way.

What was the original budget of the Ruoholahti-Matinkylä section?

The indexed budget for construction work under the project, taking the entire scope of the project plan (2008) into account, amounts to EUR 849 million (with the project plan covering EUR 714 million, to which an index increase of EUR 135 million must be added).

By how much has the budget been exceeded?

The total cost of the project amounts to EUR 1,186 million. The government subsidy is EUR 249 million. The excess totals EUR 337 million.

Why?

The last time metro was built on this scale in Finland was in the 1980s. Phase one project plan was completed in 2008, and excavation began in 2009. During the construction phase, the scope of the project has changed considerably from that in the project plan. For instance, the area of the technical facilities has approximately doubled from the original in the project plan. In addition, obstacle-free access has expanded during the project to both station entrances. In the project plan, only one entrance was defined as obstacle-free. However, in international comparison, the construction costs are low. The project costs will be revealed in detail once the final financial statements of each sub-project are completed.

Costs of metro construction projects around the world

Metro prices MUSD/km

Source: Pedestrian Observations

How long will the platforms at the metro stations be? Will the trains be able to accommodate all passengers?

The Länsimetro platforms will be 90 metres long. The platforms of the old metro system in Helsinki are 135 metres. The new control system of the metro was introduced in December 2012. The new signal box enables services at 2.5 minute intervals, while the minimum interval was previously 4 minutes. In August 2016, HKL adapted a 2.5 minute service frequency.

As Länsimetro services begin, the entire metro system will transfer to 90-metre trains that consist of two car pairs. During peak hours, trains will run at 2.5 minute intervals, which means that 96 carriages will be in service during one hour, instead of the current 90. This will improve the service standard as trains run more frequently.

Additional capacity is needed as the number of users increases. More frequent service will result in sufficient capacity at each time and improve the transport service as waiting times become shorter.

What will the travel time be from Kivenlahti to Helsinki?

Estimated travel times:

Kivenlahti–Matinkylä: about 10 minutes
Kivenlahti–Tapiola: about 15 minutes
Kivenlahti–Rautatientori: about 29 min
Kivenlahti–Hakaniemi: about 31 minutes
Kivenlahti–Itäkeskus: about 43 minutes
More travel times are listed in the travel timetable.

Further information:

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