Raide-Jokeri light rail line betters the cityscape

The light rail line Raide-Jokeri adds a whole new dimension to moving between Helsinki and Espoo. The light rail route to be inaugurated in 2024 will be extended also to OOPS in Leppävaara and Next in Keilaniemi, Espoo.

NCC is following the news about the construction of Raide-Jokeri with great enthusiasm. ”We are developing office properties at prime locations where good connectivity is the no. 1 condition. Public transportation is important for the future tenant companies to be able to recruit employees,” NCC Project Dirtector Pirkka Pikkarainen says.

”Our new projects along the track are already close to rail traffic: ‘Next’ near the Keilaniemi metro station and OOPS’ at Leppävaara railway station. Raide-Jokeri which will stop right at these properties will make them even more accessible and attractive.”

Illustration of future Raide-Jokeri rail unit IMAGE City of Espoo

Proceeding as planned

The new rail connection will replace the present bus line no. 550 which at the moment is the busiest bus connection in the Helsinki region with a traffic volume of approximately 40,000 passengers per day. The bus line’s capacity is insufficient to carry the growing traffic volumes, so Raide-Jokeri will be very much in demand.

”Raide-Jokeri is able to meet the considerable demand for public lateral transportation. It is a scopey project in itself, both geographically and cost-wise,” Manager of Traffic Routes Unit Pauliina Kuronen of the Espoo City Municipal Engineering Centre says.

”When the construction started in June 2019, it felt like the result of a huge effort. The works are now ongoing and it seems at this point anyway that the route can be opened to traffic as planned in summer 2024.”

One tramful of passengers instead of 170 passenger cars?

According to the forecast, Raide-Jokeri will carry approximately 91,000 passengers in 2030 and even 125,000 passengers in 2050. It has been estimated that in 2050 the population will reach two million people and the number of workplaces one million in the Helsinki region. The increasing demand for transportation owing to the population growth will be directed to more sustainable and environmentally friendly modes of transport, such as public transportation services.

”A Raide-Jokeri rail unit can hold from twice to three times as many passengers as a bus. On the other hand, the carrying capacity of one tram is equal to that of 170 passenger cars taken together, which means that the tram line will enable reducing emissions considerably,” Kuronen explains.

The target of the approximately € 386 million Raide-Jokeri light rail line is to upgrade the service standard and reliability of public lateral transportation. The stops on the light rail line will be located where the present and future residential, workplace and service centres are situated. The stops will only be a stone cast away from NCC’s new projects, OOPS in Leppävaara and Next in Keilaniemi.

Illustration of Keilaniemi stop IMAGE City of Espoo

Moving more easily in lateral direction

The light rail line mainly has a lane of its own reserved in the street network, which ensures smooth travel. The average travelling speed is about 25 km per hour, but at the highest the speed reaches 70 km per hour, for example, at the Viikki stretch and along Ring Road I.

”The light rail line’s speed – or slowness – has been raising some discussions. The time of travel remains about the same as on the present buses, and the entire length of route from end stop to end stop, or from Itäkeskus of Helsinki to Keilaniemi in Espoo, the total time of travel is about one hour,” Pauliina says.

However, according to the traffic forecasts, Raide-Jokeri will not be used for travelling from end to end, but on an average 4.2 km stretches at a time, with changes from one radial line to another. This is why the arrangements and functionality of the changing stops have been planned with utmost care. Reserves will be foreseen at the busiest stops for connecting bike parking, and the planning focuses on easy accessibility of the stops and unchallenged use of the light rail cars.

Raide-Jokeri speeds up construction

The sites adjoining the light rail line are planned with new development. According to Kuronen, especially the sites surrounding the tram stops attract demand for residential, workplace and service construction.

The detailed plan for the next few years to come will bring housing construction along the tracksides of Raide-Jokeri for approximately 18,000 residents in Helsinki and over 4000 residents in Espoo. At a longer time span the density along the light rail line will increase from the present situation.

Construction of housing, workplaces and services along Raide-Jokeri is both profitable and sustainable. The area already has a road network and municipal engineering, which makes them well suited for complementary construction. Of course, there are certain challenges involved with the construction of a ready-built urban environment of high density, since it will require at certain spots even extensive relocation of municipal engineering networks from below the tram line.

”The new light rail line will make up for the temporary inconvenience caused by the construction works. We strive to create a high-quality modern cityscape that will make the sites along the tram line quite attractive. We will also experiment on grassed rail line stretches which turns the tracksides green,” Kuronen describes.

What is Raide-Jokeri?

• light rail line to be built from Itäkeskus, Helsinki to Keilaniemi, Espoo
• Track length: about 25 km, including 16 km in Helsinki and 9 km in Espoo
• Speed: average speed 25 km per hour, maximum speed 70 km per hour
• Stops: 34 pairs, stop spacing 800 m
• Rail car length: 34.5 m which can be extended to 10 m by an additional module
• Number of passengers: 76 seated and 180 standing
• Contract form: alliance
• Cost estimate: 386 M€
• Time schedule: start in June 2019, to be taken to traffic in spring 2024

Who is Pauliina Kuronen?

• Manager of Traffic Routes Unit of the Espoo City Municipal Engineering Centre
• Member of the Board of the Raide-Jokeri construction alliance
• worked earlier as traffic planner and consultant in the private sector
• M. Sc. (road and traffic engineering), graduated in 2006 (HUT, Otaniemi, Espoo)
• lives in Nummela, takes on canine agility as a hobby with her three dogs

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