By Fergus Wooler and Michael Rothenborg
All over the world, light rail is getting greener and more effective, and it is an increasingly popular way to reduce congestion and CO2. In Finland, Ramboll has just been chosen to design the Jokeri light rail line between eastern Helsinki and Espoo - together with Sito Oy and VR Track Oy.
The 25-kilometre line is projected to carry more than 100,000 daily passengers by 2040, and enable increased density and in-fill construction near the tracks. Today, approximately 82,000 people live in the vicinity of the future rail line, and the number is estimated to increase by 30,000 people in 20 years.
The rail line will replace the current trunk bus line 550, the busiest bus route in the Helsinki region, linking the eastern and western parts of the region. Currently 40,000 passengers travel on bus 550 daily. Its transport capacity cannot meet the requirements of the growing passenger numbers. In addition to increased capacity, Jokeri light rail will enhance the reliability and comfort of public transport on this cross-region route.
According to estimates the light rail will also bring a significant reduction in emissions – by reducing bus transport and private car use. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are estimated to reduce by approximately 85 %, nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by approximately 95 % and particulate matter (PM) by approximately 70 % compared to the current bus line 550.
The rail line produces zero local emissions.
The busy route forms a technically challenging project, explains Jyrki Oinaanoja, Ramboll’s project manager in charge of planning:
“It includes plenty of compact urban building and many substantial bridges. The alliance ensures that we have the best possible actors for each area,” he says.
Jokeri will mostly run along a dedicated lane, which will ensure fast, smooth and reliable travel. The dual-track express rail link will be operated by high-quality vehicles that will accommodate two to three times the number of passengers of multi-axle buses. The line will have 33 pairs of stops, which are now, or will be in the future, centres of housing, offices or services. Thus, taking into account the forecasts that show there will be about two million inhabitants and over one million jobs in the Helsinki region in 2050.
The Jokeri light rail line alliance project is executed as consecutive development phase (2017-2018) and implementation phase (starting 2019).
Ramboll is a consultant on several ongoing light rail projects, particularly in Scandinavia and Germany. In 2014 Ramboll founded a new light rail system competence centre in Karlsruhe.