The EU is to spend €1m on funding a feasibility study into a 50km tunnel rail link between the Finland and Estonia.
The study will examine the technical challenges of the tunnel and its effects on the environment. Security issues will also be examined as well as the likely economic benefits compared with existing ferry services.
The idea of a link has been under consideration for some time as part of the EU’s strategic Rail Baltica high-speed rail line.
This project, which is scheduled for completion in 2025, is intended to integrate the Baltic States into the EU by connecting Berlin, Warsaw, Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn.
One variant of the plan would take the line under the Baltic to Helsinki
Finland’s Helsingin Sanomat newspaper reports that a previous study concluded that a rail tunnel would not be economically viable. However, the study also stated that if passenger and freight traffic increased by 30 per cent from its current levels, it could cover more than half the cost of the tunnel construction.
Tens of thousands of Estonians are employed in the greater Helsinki region, many of whom commute weekly between Finland and Estonia.
Image: Estonia and Finland are presently linked by ferry (Wikimedia Commons)