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Major construction site : the underwater tunnel between Estonia and Finland

20/08/2019

Major construction site : the underwater tunnel between Estonia and Finland

Codimatra continues to inform you about major construction sites and projects in Europe. This time, we leave the French shipyards (see our article on the Grand Paris Express or the Pyrenees bridges) to focus on an ambitious project: the construction of an underwater railway tunnel between Estonia and Finland.

The Helsinski - Tallinn tunnel, an ambitious construction project with great potential

This project for a construction site under the Baltic Sea has been under study for several years. However, it is necessary for obvious economic but also political reasons... This project was born from a simple observation: even if there are many sea and air routes to Finland, the shortest land trade route with its neighbours in the European Union requires passing through Russia. In addition to the political stakes, it is clear that this represents an additional cost and time for all carriers. This tunnel under the Gulf of Finland represents an exceptional economic impact. With this tunnel, it is not only trade with the Baltic States that will be simplified, but also trade with Poland and Germany. Not to mention Estonians who work or wish to work in Finland, and Finnish tourists wishing to visit Estonian cities.

An expensive project that has already found its investors

Although the feasibility study took time to be funded and accepted, it is known that the cost of the world's longest tunnel is estimated at between 13 and 20 billion euros. It would connect the Finnish capital Helsinki (very close to the sea) with the city of Tallinn, also the capital of Estonia. The project could be financed at 40% by the EU, part by the two capitals and the rest by private investors such as ARJ Holding with its 100 million euros but also more recently, the Chinese company Touchstone Capital Partners with its 15 million euros. The parallel with the Channel Tunnel is inevitable but this tunnel will be twice as big and more than 50 kilometres will be under the sea (compared to 37 km for the tunnel between France and the United Kingdom). It remains to be seen whether there will be different rails for freight and passenger transport.

What kind of construction machinery is needed for such a project ?

With 103 kilometres to connect the two stations in the capitals, this work will require many machines. As with any tunnel of this size, several tunnel boring machines will be required. But many loaders will be needed to move the cubic metres of soil. Then, for the various installations and rail laying, it will be necessary to use certain excavators that can work in a confined space. In addition, if new terminals are created, stations will require many improvements.

Experts believe that construction of the tunnel could at best begin in 2024 depending on the agreements and investments. For an opening 15 years later, in 2040.

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