Dubai company putting €100 million into Tallinn-Helsinki tunnel

Dubai engineering solutions giant ARJ Holding Ltd is investing €100 million in the Tallinn-Helsinki tunnel project, tunnel designer Peter Vesterbacka announced at a press conference on Monday.

Mr Vesterbacka, chief of FinEst Bay Area, the group behind the tunnel project, pointed out the total cost of the tunnel stands at €15 billion, with an investment period of 30 years; the tunnel itself has a projected life span of 120 years, he said.

Finest Bay Area Leader Vesterbacka said the total cost of the project is estimated at € 15 billion. The investment period is 30 years and the tunnel should last 120 years.

Project already over two years old

The project has been underway for two and a half years already, Mr Vesterbacka said, and Finest Bay Area has invested between two and three million of its own and investors funds.

Of the remainder, a loan is earmarked for 70% of funding, plus equal volumes of investments of European and Asian origin.

Mr Vesterback also swatted back media claims that there were two different tunnel projects in existence. He said in fact that the project comprises two tunnels, one passenger and one freight.

Tickets already one sale

FinEst Bay Area and Mr Westerbacka envisage the tunnel project being completed in 2024. Confidence in the project is such that travel tickets are already available. A return ticket costs €100 at present (half of that for one-way travel), and an annual ticket, with guaranteed unlimited travel through the tunnel for a year, costs €1,000.

Travel time through the tunnel between the two capitals is estimated at 20 minutes.

By comparison, return tickets via the three main car ferry operators, Tallink, Viking Line and Eckerö, cost between €20 and €50 at short notice and without offers. The journey takes between two and three hours in normal conditions.

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Now-defunct fast catamaran service Lindaline, when it ran, was closer to this price for a one-way ticket on a journey of around 45 minutes. It is not clear yet whether the company, which had gone into receivership earlier this year, will reopen in 2019 with new vessels, or what ticket prices are likely to be.

Former helicopter service Copterline, which had planned to reopen services between the two cities in recent years, having discontinued them after a fatal accident involving one of its aircraft in 2005, has yet to do so. Ticket prices when it did operate were considerably higher even than those quoted for the proposed tunnel, though the journey time was approximately the same.

Peter Vesterbacka is the former CEO of Finnish game developer Rovio. According his plan, the tunnel's route and its feeder tracks would have four stops, one of which in Tallinn, the second some 15 km from Helsinki, the third near the Aalto University campus in Otaniemi, and the fourth at Helsinki Airport.

Helsinki and Tallinn lie approximately 86 km apart at their nearest points, and are separated by the Gulf of Finland, part of the Baltic Sea. The gulf has an average depth of a little over 40 m and is over 100 m deep at its deepest points (not necessarily along the route between the two cities). The underlying bedrock is principally limestone.

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