Last July, the Finnish Ministry of Transport & Communications commissioned the Transport Agency to carry out a study on the Arctic rail line together with the Norwegian transport authorities. The Transport Agency assessed the implementation and financial feasibility of five different routing alternatives.
Following the study, it the authorities have decided that that the route to the Arctic Ocean via Oulu, Rovaniemi and Kirkenes is the one that will be examined further. The route via Kirkenes was less expensive, as well as offering other advantages.
The overall costs of the routing via Kirkenes are estimated at about €2.9bn (£2.6bn).
Finland and Norway will now appoint a joint working group will be appointed to determine the further stages and schedule of the work.
The Arctic railway is expected to improve Finland's logistical position and accessibility as well as promote connections with the whole of Europe. It would be an alternative transport route to be used in Finland's imports and exports. The deep-water ports of the Arctic Ocean that are ice-free throughout the year would also open up a new connection to the Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Passage.
“The connection would improve the conditions for many industries in northern areas,” said minister of transport and communications Anne Berner. “A working group will now start to further examine the routing to Kirkenes.”
Norway's minister of transport and communications Ketil Solvik-Olsen said: “We wish to continue the excellent Norwegian-Finnish collaboration and look forward to contribute to the working group exploring further options regarding the Artic railway route from Rovaniemi to Kirkenes (Kirkenes).”
“All the alternatives are technically feasible,” said Transport Agency director Matti Levomäki. “However, there was a lot of variation in terms of financial aspects and environmental impacts,”
The routing alternatives that were examined were Tornio-Narvik, Kolari-Narvik, Kolari-Tromsø, Rovaniemi-Kirkenes and Kemijärvi-Alakurtti-Murmansk. One alternative based on the use of high-capacity transport vehicles was also examined.
The studies estimate that goods transportated on the Arctic railway would mainly comprise minerals, fish products, raw wood and wood-industry products. Potential material for transport are also natural resources of the Barents area and products to be transported in the future via the Northeast Passage.
The Tromsø and Kirkenes routings were found to include the highest number of potential passengers. Passenger transport volumes would mainly consist of tourists.