HSL has worked on a draft tram route network plan for 2014-2024 since last autumn and now the draft is ready. The Helsinki tram route network has remained nearly unchanged for several decades but because downtown Helsinki is rapidly changing, it now needs to be revised. Traffic in downtown Helsinki will increase, among other things, because new residential and employment areas are being constructed in formed harbor areas in Jätkäsaari and Hernesaari, and the new areas will depend on tram services. The Ring Rail Line and West Metro will also affect travel patterns in the center of Helsinki in the coming years.
Draft prepared in close interaction with residents
HSL prepared the draft in close interaction with residents. Passengers have been able to have their say about the plan in different stages of the work both in residents' meetings as well as in the blog about the planning.
“The first phase of intensive interaction was in November/December when we presented two different route network options along the so called basic option,” tells HSL’s Public Transport Planner Lauri Räty. “In the route network options A and B, we proposed solutions on which we wanted to get feedback from residents”.
“On the basis of the first phase, we prepared a draft plan which took into account many of the issues pointed out in the feedback, for example, improving crosstown services, clear trunk connections to the city center and consistent service intervals on different routes”.
“We presented the draft plan in February and again collected feedback on it to make sure that nothing was left unnoticed. On the basis of the feedback we can further revise the draft before it is presented to the Executive Board of HSL in the autumn.”
“The plan is a construct consisting of several factors affecting each other,” reminds Räty. “It's a compromise in which changing one thing means cutting down something else. In such a case we need to choose the least damaging solution.”
Next, the draft is circulated for comments to the HSL member municipalities.
More frequent service, increased ridership
In the draft plan, only the routes of trams 4 and 10 will remain unchanged. Tram 1 will in the future run from Eira via Töölö to Käpylä while tram 2 will be extended to Pasila. Tram 3 will continue until Meilahti and a new route 5 will start to serve the Katajanokka terminal.
The route network is extended to cover new areas when route 6 is first extented from Hietalahti to Telakkaranta and later to Hernesaari, routes 7 and 8 from Saukonpaasi to the West Terminal and route 9 from Pasila to Ilmala.
The changes will create a stronger than before tram route network for downtown Helsinki on which travel is easy thanks to frequent service. HSL plans to introduce the changes in phases in 2017-2024.
The schedule depends on, for example, when the tracks on Välimerenkatu, Reijolankatu and Pasilansilta will be completed and when a decision will be made on the public transport solution for Kruunuvuorenranta.
HSL estimates that the changes will increase tram ridership as passengers are likely to switch from buses to trams. The number of boardings is affected also by the increasing number of transfers.
According to HSL's calculations the operating costs of the route network outlined in the plan would be about EUR 53.1 million a year. This is some EUR 0.82 million less than in the basic option in which only minor changes would be made to the current network by extending the network to new residential and employment areas.
Because the operation of the services will be more cost-effective, it will be possible to increase the number of services. Services will be more frequent during the day time and in the evening, in particular. The sufficiency of on peak capacity is ensured by slightly bigger trams than the current ones.