The ministry together with Norwegian transport authorities commissioned a study in July 2017 of five different routes to connect Finland, Lappland and northern Norway. “All the alternatives are technically feasible,” says Mr Matti Levomäki, director of Finland’s Transport Agency. “However, there was a lot of variation in terms of financial aspects and environmental impacts.”
The Kirkenes route was less expensive, and would improve Finland's logistical position, accessibility and security of supply by opening a route to an Arctic port for Finnish exports and imports. The new line would mainly carry minerals, fish products, raw wood and wood industry products. There is also the potential to transport natural resources from the Barents area and products via the Northeast Passage, as well as tourists.
“The Arctic railway is an important European project that would create a closer link between the Arctic and continental Europe,” says Ms Anne Berner, Finland’s minister of transport and communications. “The connection would improve the conditions for many industries in northern areas.”
“We wish to continue the excellent Norwegian-Finnish collaboration and look forward to contribute to the working group exploring further options regarding the Arctic railway route from Rovaniemi to Kirkenes,” says Mr Ketil Solvik-Olsen, Norway's minister of transport and communications.
A joint working group will now be appointed to examine key questions relating to the chosen route, such as environmental issues, permit procedures, costs, and finance structure and model. The working group will report back on December 31.