30.6.2020 13:39:32 //
Ville Haapasaari 
Sanna Liimatainen

Blog: Concentrating Tallinn traffic in Vuosaari unrealistic

Port of Helsinki has today published three scenarios for the development of its port areas. Focusing on the future is becoming more urgent as the City Planning Committee has rejected some traffic solutions of great importance to the port, including as the Keskustatunneli tunnel and the Jätkäsaaren Länsilinkki (‘west link’). We looked into how the location options for port operations would affect the port’s business, as well as the City of Helsinki’s vision on becoming the best-functioning city in the world.

Developing the operations in their current port locations is the best alternative for the port. This option also results in the most favourable development of passenger volumes. In this basic scenario, transport pricing would be used for guiding any growth in shipping to Vuosaari. However, this scenario involves the challenge of persistent traffic problems in the city centre. 

Helsinki will keep growing as do other metropolitan areas in the Nordic region. The other two scenarios focus on a situation where port areas in the city centre are freed from port operations and can be used for the needs of the growing city. 

The Western Harbour scenario would mean that most shipping traffic from Katajanokka and the South Harbour would be directed to the Western Harbour. This alternative would require the construction of an underground port route from Jätkäsaari to Länsiväylä, estimated to cost approximately EUR 180 million. In principle, the port is capable of executing this route, which would direct cars and lorries travelling to and from the port out of sight.  

The Western Harbour scenario is realistic for the Port of Helsinki and the city, even if it is estimated to reduce passenger traffic by six per cent. Its benefits include improved traffic flow in the city centre and more opportunities for the city to develop the South Harbour area.  

In this report, the Vuosaari scenario, where passenger and cargo traffic to Tallinn is concentrated in Vuosaari, turned out to be the most complicated alternative. Passengers would be faced with a longer sea voyage and no direct access to the city centre, which is estimated to reduce passenger volumes by 20 per cent. The weakening of the pull of the Tallinn-Helsinki twin cities would be harmful to tourism, the joint labour market and the vitality of businesses. 

It would also require the building in Vuosaari of a new passenger port similar to the one that has just been completed in Jätkäsaari. In total, the construction of a passenger port in Vuosaari would incur an additional cost of approximately EUR 700 million. The transfer of passengers from Vuosaari to the city centre would require a metro investment in excess of EUR 200 million from the city. 

In fact, the Vuosaari scenario turned out to involve the highest risks. Despite the largest investments, the passenger numbers would be the lowest and the emissions the greatest. The longer shipping route would also increase emissions by 8–25 per cent. The expansion of the port in the vicinity of a Natura nature site cannot be guaranteed and, due to strenuous permit processes, any decision-making would be postponed until the 2040s in any case.   

The decisions on the location of port operations are nationally significant and greatly affect the ability to generate wellbeing for the Helsinki area. The port’s positive impact on employment is 25,000 persons in total, and port operations generate more than EUR 110 million in municipal taxes each year. Maritime passengers bring approximately EUR 700 million to the Helsinki metropolitan area annually.

The evaluation of the scenarios gives the City of Helsinki’s decision-makers two clear options for the future: 1. Shipping continues through existing port locations. 2. Most Tallinn traffic is concentrated in Jätkäsaari. Once again, the decision makers for the City of Helsinki have a great deal of responsibility on their shoulders. 

Ville Haapasaari
Port of Helsinki Ltd, CEO