The summer of 2015 marked one of the most significant changes in the public transport of Helsinki region. In July, the new Ring Rail Line opened for passengers, providing a key public transport link for the entire metropolitan area. Ring Rail Line starts and ends in Helsinki central station, forming a loop in the north connecting new areas to the suburban rail network in Helsinki region.
Five new stations – Vehkala, Kivistö, Aviapolis, Airport and Leinelä – were opened. The length of the new rail stretch from Vantaankoski to Hiekkaharju is 18 kilometers, 8 of which run in a tunnel under Helsinki Airport.
To put the project in perspective, the last time a new passenger rail connection was opened anywhere in Finland was nine years ago. In Helsinki and its neighboring municipalities, one will have to look even further back, 33 years to be exact. That is when Helsinki Metro was opened (1982).
One of the most important features of the new rail line is that it links Helsinki Airport and the city by train. The travel time between the airport and Helsinki central station is 27 minutes via Tikkurila and 32 minutes via Myyrmäki.
However, the train station at Helsinki Airport is not completely finished yet as the direct connection between the terminal building and the station is still under construction and will be opened in late October/early November. Until then, train passengers can reach the airport via the other entrance, where there is a free non-stop shuttle bus service to the terminals.
Frequent service 21 hours a day
The Ring Rail Line is operated by I and P trains, I running counterclockwise, P clockwise. The trains on the Ring Rail Line run every day, with 10 minute intervals during the daytime from Monday to Saturday and with 15 minute intervals during the daytime on Sunday, making it one of the most frequent suburban train lines in the region. The first train leaves Helsinki central station at 3.59am, and the last train from Airport to Helsinki leaves at 1.15am.
All trains are modern and low-floor FLIRT trains, providing easy access with luggage, prams or wheelchairs. The trains are produced by Swiss Stadler Rail.
The new line also marks an improvement for passengers traveling to or from other parts of Finland. Ring Rail Line passengers can change to long-distance trains in either Tikkurila or Pasila.
New areas for offices and homes
In the future, even more people will be served by the Ring Rail Line, as new areas are being planned and built along the tracks. Areas around Vehkala and Aviapolis stations will be major business districts, whereas Kivistö and Leinelä will serve as key residential areas.
Ring Rail Line also has massive impact on other public transport in Helsinki region, as the bus network will go through a major makeover in many parts of Helsinki region, especially in the city of Vantaa.
Next year, new FLIRT trains, specially planned for public transport to and from the airport, will start operating on the line.
For more information: Johannes Laitila