Published On: Tue, Mar 12th, 2024

Helsinki-Tallinn tunnel: The £12bn tunnel that will be the world’s longest | World | News

An ambitious project that could see the creation of the world’s longest railway tunnel is struggling to get the support needed for the works to kick-start. The Helsinki–Tallinn Tunnel, also known as the FinEst tunnel, is a proposed undersea infrastructure that, according to initial plans, would link the capital cities of Finland and Estonia.

The tunnel’s final length would depend upon which route is created. The shortest way to close the distance between the two European cities would see the construction of a tunnel with a submarine length alone of 50 miles.

This infrastructure, which could be as long as 62 miles, would be longer than the current longest railway tunnel in the world – the 40-mile-long Gotthard Base Tunnel, which crosses the Swiss Alps.

The FinEst project could cost between £7.70billion to 12.8billion, reports published on the tunnel over the years have claimed.

Both Tallinn and Helsinki have pledged £85,500 (€100,000) for preparatory studies, though the relevant ministries of each country have refused to grant any funding.

Funds for this project were offered by China, as part of the Belt and Road Initiative aiming at investing in infrastructure development worldwide.

But the Estonian government turned down Beijing’s offer. In a statement dating back to July 2020, the then Estonian Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab mentioned “environmental, economic, and security reasons” to doubt the project’s viability.

A major step forward to the creation of this tunnel happened in April 2021, when the governments of Estonia and Finland signed a Memorandum of Understanding on mutual cooperation in the transport sector and large-scale transport projects.

However, this agreement didn’t consist of any firm commitment from either Finland or Estonia to creating the FinEst tunnel – or any other project.

Hopes for the tunnel to become reality anytime soon were dashed by the Finnish Minister of Transport and Communications Lulu Ranne, who speaking to Estonian daily Postimees in February said she isn’t considering the Helsinki-Tallinn tunnel a “realistic plan”.

The two European cities are currently connected by ferry, with trips lasting between 1 hour and 40 minutes to two hours, and by plane.

A tunnel would bring Finland and Estonia closer by removing the need to use sea or air transport or, most importantly amid the current geopolitical environment, travel through Russia.

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