A memorandum of understanding has been signed with three major Chinese contractors to build a railway tunnel approximately 90km under the Gulf of Finland to link Helsinki with Tallinn, capital of Estonia.
State-owned firms China Railway International Group (CRIG), its parent company China Railway Group (CREC), and China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) signed the agreement with the scheme’s Finnish developer, Finest Bay Area Development Oy (FEBAY) and its main funder, China’s Touchstone Capital Partners, which has agreed in principle to lend the scheme €15bn.
"We are very excited to get these best-in-class tunnel and train-skilled design and construction companies to join our project," said Peter Vesterbacka, FEBAY co-founder, in a statement sent to GCR.
He said the companies were the largest in the world in their fields of expertise, and that "there is very limited resources in Finland and Estonia in tunnel boring and high speed train technologies".
The parties will now negotiate final agreements on the project’s design and construction.
The idea for the Tallinn tunnel is to create a combined metropolitan area out of the capital city regions of Finland and Estonia, which FEBAY argues would become a "centre of gravity between Asia and Europe".
FEBAY said its target for opening the rail link is Christmas Eve 2024.
Its statement said the entire tunnel budget is €15bn, with the construction cost put at €12.5bn.
Also involved in the project consortium core are Swedish-Finish engineering firm AÌŠF PoÌˆyry, Finnish engineering-design group, AINS, and Finnish construction company Fira Group.
FEBAY said AÌŠF PoÌˆyry and AINS have met with the Chinese companies since the start of 2019 with meetings in Beijing and Finland.
Image: Finest Bay Area Development’s visualisation of the double tunnel