TALLINN: Estonia and Finland on Tuesday agreed to take another step towards building an undersea railway tunnel linking their respective capitals, located on opposite shores of the Baltic Sea.
Estimated to cost around 13 billion euros ($14 billion), the project would extend to Helsinki the Rail Baltica high-speed rail link that Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania already plan to build between Tallinn and the Polish capital Warsaw by 2025.
“The tunnel would offer Helsinki the opportunity to get attached to the Rail Baltica,” Finnish Transport Minister Anne Berner told reporters after agreeing with Estonian Economy Minister Kristen Michal in Tallinn to further study the feasibility of the project.
A preliminary study into the tunnel was published last February and now the two countries seek funding from the European Union to continue the project. The 40-year-old Michal said he hoped the tunnel would be done by the time he retires, while Berner said construction could begin within 10 years.
Helsinki and Tallinn are currently linked via a 80-kilometre (50-mile) ferry route — a two-hour journey that more than eight million people made in 2014, including tourists and the tens of thousands of Estonians working in Finland. The railway tunnel would cut down the travel time to 30 minutes, turning the two cities into one large urban area that has already been referred to as Talsinki.