January 5, 2016 / 7:29 PM / 3 years ago

Finland and Estonia ponder undersea railway tunnel

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finland and Estonia on Tuesday agreed to explore the possibility of constructing an undersea railway tunnel between their capitals.

Tens of thousands of Estonians work in the Helsinki region, many of whom commute over the Baltic Sea weekly, and many Finnish tourists visit Tallinn.

“Helsinki and Tallinn together form an economic area of approximately 1.5 million people. To fully utilize the area’s potential, transport between the cities should be faster and flow easier than at present,” the city of Helsinki said in a statement.

It added that a tunnel would shorten the travel time between the cities to about 30 minutes, from at least 90 minutes currently by fast ferry. The tunnel would be 65-92 km (40-60 miles) long.

The tunnel would link up with Rail Baltica, a railway connection between Tallinn and Warsaw projected to be completed in 2025.

A Helsinki report last year estimated the railway tunnel would cost 9-13 billion euros and could be operational after 2030.

A memorandum of understanding was signed by the two cities and governments of both countries.

Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl; editing by Andrew Roche

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