The tram network needs an overhaul because Helsinki is rapidly changing. For example, the new housing areas in Jätkäsaari, Hernesaari and Ilmala will rely on tram services. The planning of public transport services for Kruunuvuorenranta in Laajasalo is also based on a tram route running along a bridge.
The tram route network plan runs until 2024. The key changes are the recasting of the northern end of the circular routes 2 and 3 and the recasting of the circular route 7. The route of tram 2 will end in Pasila and the route of tram 3 in Meilahti. Tram 7 will continue to Jätkäsaari and to Meilahti in the north. The route of tram 1 will be extended to the west of the inner city to improve crosstown links from Helsinginkatu. Routes 6, 7, 8 and 9 will be extended to new housing areas.
“Several tram routes will serve the most important sections. They will be synchronized so that trams will run frequently and passengers will not need to check timetables”, says HSL Public Transport Planner Lauri Räty.
The implementation of the plan requires the construction of new tracks on Välimerenkatu, Reijolankatu, Meilahti turnaround and in Pasila. These are estimated to be completed in 2017 – 2021.
HSL received comments on the draft tram network plan from the cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa. HSL has taken the comments into account in the plan and conducted further studies in cooperation with the City of Helsinki.
In the plan, the routes of trams 7 and 9 are changed so that tram 7 will run to the West Terminal and tram 9 to Saukonpaasi. This allows the service on route 7 to end after the arrival of the last ferries at the West Terminal and the provision of night services on route 9 serving the residents of Jätkäsaari. At the same time, increased night time services to Kallio and Harju can be provided by route 3.
The impacts of the solutions planned for Pasila on the service level and operating costs were assessed using three options. One option was maintaining the existing route to Länsi-Pasila. This option had strong support from residents. The assessment provided no grounds for changing the solution set out in the draft plan according to which the trams will no longer run via Länsi-Pasila approximately from 2021. At the same time, the route of tram 9 will be extended via Pasilankatu to Ilmala.
As proposed by the City of Helsinki, the launch of tram route 5 to Katajanokka terminal has been brought forward so that the tram will start to run in August 2016.Services on route 4T will be transferred to route 4.
Close interaction with residents
The preparation of the tram route network plan started in autumn 2013.Passengers have been able to have their say on the plan at different phase, for example, on the blog opened for the plan and in three public meetings in November-December 2013.
The draft route network plan was published at HSL's website in February 2014 and comments on it were invited from residents. The feedback has been taken into account in the planning as much as possible.
“Public transport network is an entity where several things affect each other,” Räty states. "Sometimes planning involves compromises. Our goal is that the changes would benefit as many people as possible and that the travel would not become unreasonably difficult for anyone”.
The route network plan makes tram services more cost-effective. The operating costs will decrease by about EUR0.8 million a year compared to the basic option where the tram network is extended to new housing areas but only minor changes are made to the rest of the network. The number of trams needed for the planned services is reduced by seven compared to the basic option.
The plan now approved only concerns tram services in downtown Helsinki. The planning of the Laajasalo tramway is underway and planning of tramways to Kalasatama will begin this year. The alignments and timings of these routes depend on, for example, the decisions on the Kruunusilta Bridges and Hanasaari power plant.