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Helsinki Metro
Helsingin metro logo.svg
Info
Locale Helsinki
Transit type Rapid transit
Number of lines 2
Number of stations 17
Daily ridership 199,339 (2008) [1]
Operation
Began operation 1982
Operator(s) Helsinki City Transport
Technical
System length 21.1 km (13.1 mi)
Track gauge 1,524 mm (5 ft) 

The Helsinki Metro (Finnish: Helsingin metro, Swedish: Helsingfors metro), is the metro system in Helsinki, Finland. It is the World's most northern metro system, and currently the only one in Finland. The system was opened to the general public on 2 August 1982 after 27 years of planning. It is operated by Helsinki City Transport (HKL) and carries 50 million passengers per year.

The system contains a single forked line with seventeen stations along a total length of 21.1 kilometres (13.1 mi). It primarily serves the tightly built suburbs of East Helsinki, but can also be used as a means of transport within the central parts of the city. The Länsimetro extension will continue the line into western Helsinki and the neighbouring region of Espoo.

Contents

History

An orange Helsinki Metro train.

The initial motion for building a metropolitan railway system in Helsinki was made in September 1955. A committee was set to work on the issue, and a first draft of a system was issued in March 1963. The suggested system had a total length of 86.5 km (53.7 mi) and contained a total of 108 stations. This was rejected after lengthy discussions as too extensive, and the city assembly decided to only commission one line, from Kamppi to Puotila in the east of the city. A northwest branch was instead realized as a conventional railway line, the M line to Martinlaakso, which was opened in 1975.

The go-ahead for the construction of the first stage of the metro system was given on 7 May 1969, and it was expected to finish before 1977. A testing track from the depot in Roihupelto to Herttoniemi was finished in 1971. However, several problems came up in the testing stages, including corruption and faults in the rolling stock, and the system was not opened until 1982, five years behind schedule.

On 1 June 1982, the test drives were opened to the general public, but the system was not officially opened until 2 August 1982, 27 years after the initial motion to the city assembly had been made. The system originally had only six stations between the Central Railway Station and Itäkeskus, but it has since been expanded by eleven additional stations, including a fork at Itäkeskus.

After 8 November 2009, access to the Metro area under the Central Railway Station was restricted with the metro station closed for renovations following an incident involving a burst water pipe.[2]

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Expansion of the network

A metro train (100 series) crossing a bridge in eastern Helsinki, between Rastila and Puotila stations.

After decades of debate and planning, the metro extension to the west (Länsimetro) has received the go-ahead. The extension is unlikely to open before 2013.

Network

Helsinki Metro map.
The entrance to Rastila metro station.
An interior view of a M100 metro train.
A platform at Kamppi metro station.

The Helsinki Metro system currently consists of seventeen stations. The stations are located along a Y shape, where the central line runs from the city centre towards the eastern suburbs. The line forks at the Itäkeskus metro station. The six stations in central Helsinki are below surface, while the eleven eastern stations are surface stations.

Trains on the metro system usually run every four or five minutes, and they alternate between the Mellunmäki (northern) and Vuosaari (eastern) branches. The metro trains stop at every station, and the names of the stations are announced in both Finnish and Swedish (with the exceptions of Central Railway Station, which is announced also in English, and "Kaisaniemi", which is pronounced identically in Finnish and Swedish). About this sound Station announcement at Itäkeskus.

The metro is designed as a core transport facility, which means that extensive feeder bus transport links are provided between the stations and the surrounding districts. Taking a feeder bus to the metro is often the only option to get to the city centre from some districts. For example, since the construction of the metro, all daytime bus routes from the islands of Laajasalo terminate at the Herttoniemi metro station.

List of stations

Ruoholahti - Itäkeskus:

Itäkeskus - Mellunmäki: (northern branch)

Itäkeskus - Vuosaari: (southern branch)

Access

The fact that most of the stations are located on the surface makes the metro system more friendly for passengers with mobility problems. There are no stairs on most sub-surface stations, and moving from street level from the stations can be done by escalators or lifts. The trains themselves have no steps either, and the platforms are always at the same level as the floor of the train.

Ticketing

The ticketing scheme on the Metro is consistent with other forms of transport inside the city of Helsinki, managed by the Helsinki City Transport (HKL) agency. Single tickets can be bought from ticket machines at the stations or by SMS. A single ticket can be used to change for any other form of transport inside the city, and is valid for one hour. Passes issued by HKL or Helsinki Metropolitan Area Council (YTV) are also valid on the Metro.

Rolling stock

A Metro train at Kulosaari metro station.
M200-series Metro train Inside

The trains on the Helsinki Metro are technologically quite similar to trains on the VR commuter rail network, which serves the northern and western suburbs of Helsinki. The rail gauge is 5 feet, 1524 mm (European broad gauge), as in all Finnish railway traffic. The electricity used by the metro trains is a 750 volt direct current, and it is drawn from an electricity track (also known as third rail) on the side of the metro tracks.

There are currently two different models of Metro Train in service. The M100 series was built by Strömberg in the early 1980s and the newer M200 series was built by Bombardier and has been used since 2001. Even though the system was built in the 1970s and 1980s, it is still modern compared to most other metros in the world.

The normal speed of the metro trains is 70 kilometres per hour (43 mph) inside the tunnels and 80 kilometres per hour (50 mph) on the open portion of the network. The points have a maximum structural speed of either 35 kilometres per hour (22 mph) or 60 kilometres per hour (37 mph).

Depot

Depot access line on-street running in Viikki

The maintenance and storage depot for the metro system is at Roihupelto, between Siilitie metro station and Itäkeskus metro station. The depot is connected to the metro line from both the east and western directions, with a third platform at Itäkeskus used for de-training passengers before returning to the depot. Both heated and unheated undercover storage areas are provided so that trains are ready for use without a lengthy heating period.

Behind Roihupelto depot is the metro test track, allowing testing at speeds of up to 100 km/h; the far end of the this test-track is connected via a non-electrified 5 km long railway route to the VR main line at Oulunkylä railway station. Both the metro and mainline share a 1524 mm rail gauge. The access line is mostly along the first half of the old Herttoniemi Harbour railway. Through the area of Viikki, this single line has street running. The Jokeri bus-line makes use of the depot line's railway bridges to cross Vantaa river and Finnish national road 4.

As of 2008, the new Vuosaari harbour and its rail link are 2 km from the present end at Vuosaari metro station. When a new metro link line to the VR harbour railway is constructed, the existing depot link will be closed. This section of the route will be released for the light rail-based Jokeri line upgrade, scheduled for 2016 onwards.

The future

Map of the Helsinki commuter rail network along with the metro line and their planned extensions

The last major change to the Metro system was the completion of the new Kalasatama metro station between Sörnäinen and Kulosaari. The new station serves the new "Sörnäistenranta-Hermanninranta" (Eastern Harbour) area, a former port facility that will be redeveloped as its functions are moved to the new Port of Vuosaari in the east of the city. Another new station is being planned in Roihupelto, between Siilitie and Itäkeskus. It is planned to serve a future residential area, the planning of which is still to begin.[3]

The City of Helsinki supports plans to extend the Metro to the neighbouring municipalities of Espoo in the west and Vantaa and Sipoo in the northeast. The municipalities themselves are not very supportive of the idea, and especially the proposed extension to southern Espoo (the so-called länsimetro) has provoked lots of discussion and political feuding both within Espoo and between the two municipalities. However, according to a poll conducted in 2005, 75% of people in Espoo favoured building the western extension, and in September 2006, the Espoo city council made a decision to start building the länsimetro. The permits for the excavation work of the tunnels at Ruoholahti in Helsinki have been granted and the work is to begin in November 2009, while the start of construction in Espoo is pending the processing of formal complaints. The extension is expected to be in operation in 2013 at the earliest. Currently, the metro serves Kamppi bus terminal, where the buses via the highway Länsiväylä to Espoo leave.

A second Metro line from Laajasalo via Kamppi to Pasila north of the city centre, and possibly onwards to Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, is also being planned. This is being taken into consideration in city plans and has been discussed by the city assembly, but does not look likely to be constructed before 2020 at the earliest. At the Kamppi station, a platform level for a crossing line was excavated already during the original construction, to prepare for this eventuality. The construction of the Helsinki commuter rail Ring Rail Line, which connects the airport to the rail network, was begun in May 2009. The current plans commissioned by the city recommend the extension of the tram network, instead of the metro, to Laajasalo. Thus, the construction of the second metro line on a Laajasalo-Kamppi-Airport route appears unlikely.

On 17 May 2006 the Helsinki city council decided that the current, manually driven metro trains will be replaced by automatic ones, operated without drivers.[4] Until this is done, expansion of the system will not be possible as new and replacement parts for the current system, built in the 1970s, are increasingly difficult to obtain. The goal is to have the automatic trains running in 2013.

Unused Metro stations

In addition to the metro stations already in operation, forward-looking design has led to extra facilities being constructed in case they are needed in the future.

Kamppi/Kampen
The current metro station lays in an east-west direction. A second metro station was excavated at the same time of construction in 1981. This station is perpendicular (north-south) to the first one and has platforms 100m in length, slightly shorter than those above.[5] Tunnels designed to eventually connect the two sets of lines curve off from the west-end of Kamppi. See also: Helsingin Sanomat published side elevation plan and photograph of second level.
Hakaniemi/Hagnäs
Two station boxes were constructed in Hakaniemi. Intended for future expansion, the second is presently unused.[6]
Kaisaniemi/Kajsaniemi
A second area exists below the current platforms, with the intention to allow for future expansion.[6]
Munkkivuori/Munkshöjden
The designers of Finland's first shopping centre were very enthusiastic about the rumoured plans for a metro system all over Helsinki—something that would not appear for another 20 years. Built in 1964, the station does not fit into any future metro lines and is unlikely to be used. The platform area is currently partially littered with building-rubble from more recent construction works in the area and the only visible evidence of the ahead-of-its-time station are a pair of large escalators. The escalators lead down from the main part of the shopping mall to the below-ground area where the ticket office would have been. The entrance to the lower level is behind the strange-shaped photographic shop.[7]

Statistics

According to the Helsinki City Transport (HKL) yearly report for 2003, the metro system had a total of 55.4 million passengers, who travelled a total of 404.1 million kilometres. The total turnover for the metro division of HKL was €16.9 million and it made a profit of €3.8 million.

The Metro is by far the cheapest form of transport in Helsinki to operate, with a cost of only €0.032 per passenger kilometre. The same figure for the second cheapest form - trams - was €0.211.

In 2002, the Metro used 39.8 GWh of electricity, though the figure was rising (from 32.2 GWh in 2001). This equals 0.10 kWh per passenger kilometre, and compares favourably with Helsinki's trams (which used 0.19 kWh per passenger kilometre in 2002).[8]

See also

References

External links


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