Light rail line 15 to start on 21 October
Light rail line 15 will start operating between Itäkeskus in Helsinki and Keilaniemi in Espoo on Saturday 21 October. The new 25-kilometer long light rail line will bring trams to completely new areas and provide interchanges with the metro as well as commuter trains.
“The new light rail line will provide a brand new zero-emission mode of transport, which will significantly improve crosstown transport services and travel comfort. The rail link will be opening well ahead of schedule and this is a tremendous success for all who participated in the project,” says Mika Nykänen, HSL’s Executive Director.
There are 34 stops on the new light rail line. The rail link will strengthen the Helsinki region public transport network and improve crosstown connectivity. The route connects Itäkeskus, Aalto University and Keilaniemi metro stations and Oulunkylä, Huopalahti and Leppävaara train stations.
The light rail line will replace trunk bus route 550. However, the bus and light rail 15 will be running in parallel for some time until bus 550 is withdrawn by the end of the year.
The exact start time and details of the opening ceremony will be confirmed soon. The timetables of the new light rail line will be available in the Journey Planner in good time before the opening of the line.
There are still some finishing works to be done at stops and on the vehicles related, for example, to up-to-date passenger information.
The tramway was completed well ahead of schedule
According to the original plan, the light rail was due to be completed in summer 2024. However, the works undertaken by the Jokeri Light Rail alliance were completed ahead of schedule.
“Metropolitan Area Transport Ltd, together with the cities, commissioned the construction of the Jokeri Light Rail tracks and depot, acquired the vehicles, trained drivers and other personnel, and is now ready to start operating the service,” says Juha Hakavuori, Managing Director of Metropolitan Area Transport Ltd.
The construction began in 2019 and the project was handed over to the Cities of Helsinki and Espoo and to Metropolitan Area Transport Ltd at the end of August 2023.
“The construction of the light rail line was completed ahead of schedule and the light rail will also start operating ahead of schedule. One of the key factors in the success of the large rail project has been the alliance model, in which the client, designers and the contractor form a single project organization. Light rail line 15 will provide a crosstown rail link in Espoo, improving the punctuality, capacity and travel comfort of crosstown public transport,” says Olli Isotalo, Urban Environment Director at the City of Espoo.
Due to faster-than-expected completion, all the vehicles ordered have not been delivered and the services will initially run less frequently than planned. At first, the light rail will run every 12 minutes at the busiest times. When all the vehicles have been delivered, by summer 2024, the service will run every 6 minutes at the busiest times.
Changes and new developments also around the rail line
There have also been a number of changes in the areas around the rail line. Plenty of new apartments have been built along the rail line, for example in Oulunkylä, Helsinki and in Perkkaa, Espoo. Cycling and walking routes have also been developed.
“The Jokeri Light Rail Line is the first step towards the development of Helsinki into a networked city relying on rail transport, in line with its master plan. The crosstown light rail line has already greatly contributed to urban development and spurred construction activity along its route,” says Ville Lehmuskoski, Head of the City of Helsinki Urban Environment Division.