"Finland's infrastructure network for land, maritime, inland waterway and air transport builds on and supports comprehensively sustainable development throughout the country"

3.4.1 Transport network development

Current situation

The repairs needed in our transport network currently equate to a repair debt of EUR 2.5 billion, and the network is deteriorating year by year. Safe and seamless mobility of people and goods is being compromised in a growing number of areas. The current level of financing is inadequate, and this has repercussions for the safety and fluency and affects the accessibility of regions and competitiveness of businesses. Besides the need to develop the main rail network, achieve shorter travel times and improve transport network capacity, there are other significant new large-scale projects that demand financial resources too.

Transport emissions account for one fifth of Finland’s greenhouse gas emissions. Finland is committed to reducing transport emissions by 50 per cent by 2030. Road transport offers the greatest potential in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The accessibility of high-speed communications connections is also a challenge. The current capacity of the networks fails to support client needs, digital services or automation to a sufficient degree. Networks are a platform for social services and they must be able to meet service needs in the whole country.

Objective 1

Efficient transport infrastructure

Finland's infrastructure network for land, maritime, inland waterway and air transport builds on and supports, in a balanced way, competitive, innovative, resource-wise and comprehensively sustainable development throughout the country ensuring the security of supply.

Finland will significantly increase the share of rail transport and infrastructure repair investments compared to their current level, paying attention to orbital and low-volume rail sections.

In the basic repairs of the transport infrastructure, the focus is on investments that improve the condition of the basic transport infrastructure, remove bottlenecks, reduce emissions and improve traffic safety as well as benefit the public transport development, regional accessibility and business and industry. The repair debt of the lower road network and private roads must also be reduced.

Measures

According to the proposal by a parliamentary working group, from 2020 onwards there will be an annual total increase of EUR 300 million in the management of the basic transport infrastructure. For winter maintenance, there will be a permanent increase of EUR 20 million within the total increase for the management of the basic transport infrastructure. Financing will be especially allocated to regions where the problems posed by winters are the most challenging.

A permanent increase in the financing level of the management of the basic transport infrastructure will ensure that the repair debt will no longer increase and that the existing debt can be reduced. The effectiveness of the additional funding allocated to reducing the repair debt will be assessed annually.

The basic transport infrastructure will be repaired, bottlenecks removed, and investments reducing emissions and improving traffic safety will be made, which will benefit the public transport development, regional accessibility and business and industry. The condition of the lower road network will also be improved.

The amount of rail investment will be increased from the current level. Measures to reduce travel times and improve safety on the railways will be taken within the limits of the total increase for the management of the basic transport infrastructure. Additional financing of EUR 22 million in 2020–2022 has been reserved for removing dangerous level crossings.

Appropriations for the basic repair of private roads will be ensured. In this work, consideration will be given to how the repairs will affect the quality of water. Permanent financing is justified, because the failure of the structures of private roads would be economically unsustainable.

In connection with the network development projects, an amount of EUR 10 million of the total funding will be allocated to meet the infrastructure needs of walking and cycling.

The total increase for the management of the basic transport infrastructure will be directed to reducing travel times in passenger transport, removing bottlenecks in freight transport, improving traffic safety, increasing the axle loads and investing in transport infrastructure pavements and bridges in such a way that the regional balance is observed and the needs of business and industry are taken into account before the government report on the 12-year plan for the transport system is completed.

The Kemi–Laurila–Haaparanta line will be electrified. The cost of this in the budget is EUR 10 million. The electrification will open up a connection via northern Sweden for freight and passenger transport to Europe and the Arctic Ocean. The rail line will provide a new transport route, serve the needs of industries and open up the potential for passenger transport across borders.

In June 2019, the Government will submit a supplementary budget, by which significant transport projects will be launched. The Government will specify the projects in connection with the preparation of the supplementary budget.

An overall picture of the transport infrastructure network will be formed and extensively assessed. The overall development will be laid down in the 12-year plan for the national transport system presented by the parliamentary working group.

The effectiveness of the Decree on the Arterial Roads and Railways and their Service Level, and any needs for amendments, will be assessed in connection with the 12-year transport system planning work in order to ensure that there will be a functional connection between close-by regional centres and that consideration will be given to export ports and border-crossing points.

Special infrastructure needs critical to business and industry will be considered, and railway terminals will be restored where possible.

Besides direct financing from the budget, separate funding will be provided for different projects

Projects especially concerning the rail network and rail transport and needing billions in investments will be subjected to extensive impact assessments. The basis for the planning and construction must be efficient integration with the current network in order to bring more passengers to rails and to facilitate wise spending. The projects support the development in Finland, the mobility of the labour force and the sustainable mobility goals in a functionally and regionally balanced manner and provide a competitive alternative to air transport.

In order to introduce the most cost-efficient solutions, the projects will not be separated from the overall development of the transport infrastructure network or the 12-year transport system planning work.

Preconditions for the project companies and the relation to infrastructure ownership will be set from the transport policy viewpoint:

  • State owns the key infrastructure
  • Publicly-owned qualified majority shareholdings in the companies
  • Reference to financing must be included in the Act on the Municipal Guarantee Board
  • Minimisation of the financing costs
  • Company revenues are based on a realistic estimate
  • Yield expectations must not unreasonably increase the railway infrastructure charge
  • In order to ensure the application process for EU funding, the planning readiness of transport infrastructure projects will be promoted. The efficiency of the application processes will be improved, with the understanding that in some projects advances have been achieved in the capacity to deliver.

In terms of investments in the main infrastructure network, the opportunities to apply for financing within the EU guidelines on Military Mobility will also be examined.

The Government will provide capital to Nordic Railways Ltd where necessary and in order to launch the rail network development projects listed below, if they meet the criteria defined above. The capitalisation will be carried out within the general government financial balance and the spending limits.

  • Main line and its extensions
  • Rail line west from Helsinki (including the Espoo urban railway)
  • Rail line east from Helsinki

Regarding the City Rail Loop (Pisara) and the Helsinki railway yard arrangements, the most efficient model in terms of transport development and national economy bringing the best overall benefits will be ensured.

Progress in large-scale rail projects calls for agreement between the central government, municipalities and other possible beneficiaries regarding the project implementation and financing.

In connection with the investments, it must be noted that also the rail control and safety system has to be updated.

Other measures

Improvement of traffic safety will again be included in the development of the transport system and services. The aim is to respond to the zero scenario of the European Union (zero traffic fatalities by 2050). A government resolution on traffic safety will be prepared as a guideline for achieving this goal. As measured at the 2016 price level, fatalities and serious accidents generated costs of EUR 1,370 million so the financial impacts of achieving the goal will also be significant.

In order to develop the system, reduce emissions and improve accessibility, opportunities provided by transport digitalisation, broader and more diverse offering of services and shared use will be taken into full use. Consideration will be given to the special characteristics of urban environments and rural areas, to different transport modes and to opportunities for intelligent solutions for transport infrastructure on land, the sea, and in inland waterways and air.

Information will be gathered on different ways to better ensure people’s rights to administer their personal data according to the MyData principles. The objective will be promoted by both national and international regulation.

In carrying out large-scale digitalisation projects, it must be ensured that the language rights are fulfilled in practice.

Instructions will be issued for Finland on the ethical use of artificial intelligence.

The renewal of the ice-breaking capacity subject to security of supply will continue so that it will meet the needs of foreign trade well into the future.

Possibilities to cooperate with Sweden in icebreaking services and equipment procurement will be examined.

The renewal of the vessel fleet in archipelago traffic will continue. The provision of transport services in the archipelago free of charge will be maintained.

The current fairway due system in maritime transport will be maintained to ensure regular, year-round maritime transport to and from Finland.

The Act on Transport Services will be assessed.

In terms of taxi transport, the necessary amendments will be made with due consideration to the safety of the operations and to the combat against the grey economy. In the new situation, steps will be taken to find solutions for the problems that have emerged (for example transparency of pricing and availability of taxis). The rules of competitive tendering for taxi transport services paid by the Social Insurance Institution of Finland call for reassessment.

Objective 2

Low-emission transport

The targets for reducing emissions from transport must be in line with Finland's carbon neutrality targets. By 2030, Finland will reduce transport emissions by at least 50 per cent compared to the 2005 level. This is a step towards carbon-free transport. In order to reduce transport emissions, measures will be taken to reduce transport performances, to promote the transition towards more sustainable mobility and to phase out fossil fuels.

The total performance of public transport, cycling and walking must clearly be  improved. According to the Action Programme for Carbon-free Transport 2045, the travel performance must clearly be improved.

The aim of the Programme for Promoting Walking and Cycling adopted by the Government in 2018 is to increase the volumes of walking and cycling from the level of 2018 by 30 per cent by 2030.

The transition to sustainable biofuels in heavy goods vehicles and air transport will be promoted.

Measures

A reform of taxes and payments in sustainable transport will be initiated to reduce emissions. As a basis for the reform, an extensive impact assessment will be carried out to build a socially, societally and regionally sustainable operating framework to ensure that the differences in income and wealth will not widen. The reform will be implemented in stages so that the level of taxation will change systematically, taking into account the emission-reduction targets.

Preparations will be made to introduce a vignette charge for heavy goods vehicles, taking into account the impacts on the cost structure of the transport sector and the relation to the drafting of EU legislation.

If the taxation on transport, especially on diesel, is reformed, the opportunities to introduce biodiesel for professional use will be examined.

In accordance with the carbon neutrality target, a roadmap for fossil-free transport will be drafted, the indicators will be developed and a reform of propulsion technologies will be carried out:

  • The reform of the vehicle propulsion technologies and the reaching of the zero- emissions level of the vehicle fleet in stages will be facilitated.
  • Sustainably produced liquid biofuels will be provided particularly for the use of heavy goods vehicles and air transport.
  • An assessment will be carried out on the adequacy of sustainably produced biofuels in road transport.
  • A cooperation network will be initiated with responsibility to develop emissions indicators that would serve as a basis for taxation. The network will include specialists at the Ministries (Ministries of Finance, Economic Affairs and Employment, the Environment, Transport and Communications and Agriculture and Forestry), in the research sector, businesses and non-governmental organisations. The results of the work on the indicators will be considered in the national transport system planning.

Quick measures for reducing emissions and promoting a circular economy:

  • A programme for promoting walking and cycling will be implemented. In 2020–2022, EUR 41 million will be reserved for the planning work and project promotion related to walking and cycling.
  • Common quality standards for cycling paths will be drawn up.
  • A climate-based overall increase will be provided to public transport subsidies and purchases, annually EUR 20 million.
  • The introduction of a low-emission fleet in public transport will be accelerated (EU requirements: in service procurements, the amount of clean vehicles will be 41 per cent by 2025 and 59 per cent by 2030).
  • The introduction of passenger and freight transport services on low-volume or discarded rail sections will be facilitated.
  • In sparsely populated rural areas, mobility service innovations will be sought by investing in cross-administrative service pilots.
  • Sustainably produced biogas will be included in the scope of the distribution obligation.
  • Commuter cycling will be promoted.
  • Conversion subsidies will continue at the current level. It will be ensured that conversions of vehicle propulsion technologies allowing low-emission mobility will be considered in car, vehicle and propulsion technology taxation.
  • In order to promote the charging infrastructure, a national obligation will be set in accordance with the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive to build a charging infrastructure for electric cars whenever a large-scale renovation is completed in a housing company or on business premises.
  • An obligation will be set for petrol station chains to provide a certain number of charging points for electric cars.
  • Tractors converted to biogas can be registered for road traffic use.
  • Piloting of carbon neutral synthetic fuels and launching of their production in Finland will be promoted.
  • The Government will promote the digitalisation and automation of transport and logistics by allocating funding for experiments and by influencing international and EU regulations in the sector.
  • To meet the objectives of the End-of-life Vehicles Directive, a data platform for vehicles to be scrapped should be set up on the basis of the existing register of the Transport and Communications Agency.
  • In air transport, the objective is to reach, with the help of the blending obligation, a level of 30 per cent in sustainable biofuels by 2030
  • Finland will continue to play an active role in the EU-level and international organisations in promoting measures to reduce air transport and maritime emissions.
  • Measures to extend the charging infrastructure and the distribution network for biogas by making use of the EU funding potential will be supported.
  • A development programme for inland waterway transport will be drafted taking into account the best choices for businesses, industries and water protection.
  • As part of reducing transport emissions, inland navigation will be promoted in accordance with EU objectives, for example by lengthening the locks in the Saimaa Canal by taking advantage of possible EU funding.
  • To promote lake tourism and to improve the quality of waters, channel projects can be implemented in cooperation with regional operators.

Objective 3

Efficient communications and information exhange

Construction of an extensive optical fibre network will continue throughout Finland and the data transfer speed will be increased as a universal service obligation. The digital infrastructure strategy will be promoted. Sufficient funding for the Finnish Broadcasting Company will be ensured and fair accessibility of postal services throughout the country will be secured.

People's right to versatile, diverse and reliable information will be ensured.

Measures

Measures will be taken to achieve the goal set by the European Union and the Digital Infrastructure Strategy (2018) of the Ministry of Transport and Communications for 2025. According to the goal, everyone must have access to high-speed broadband connection.

The level of the universal service obligation will be raised. Telecom operators will have to present their plans on how to reach the target set for the broadband network construction.

Broadband investment debt will be reduced by continuing the broadband programme. An act on broadband subsidies with better guidance will be drafted so that the problems of built-up areas will be taken into account. The programme will be targeted at areas where no broadband will be available before 2025.

The Government will complete the commitments of the Broadband for All project.

Cost-efficiency and shared construction of the infrastructure will be promoted by obliging the electric power companies and telecom operators to share their upcoming projects in a shared construction portal so that different actors can be involved and overlapping excavation work will be avoided.

Balanced construction of the fixed and wireless broadband networks will be promoted.

The construction of the optical fibre network will be primarily carried out on market terms, and secondarily through financing by the state, municipalities and the European Union.

The introduction of new cabling technologies (for example microtrenching) will be promoted.

Measures will be taken across administrative branches to ensure the network reliability, safety and security in the event of emergency or crisis.

In order to simplify and improve the services provided by society and the authorities, electronic solutions and e-Finland administration will be developed.

The possibility for electronic identification for all Finnish citizens and everyone residing in Finland will be promoted.

The Postal Act and its application will be examined while maintaining the universal service obligation. The postal services will be ensured in sparsely populated areas and in the archipelago in accordance with the Act on Promoting the Development of the Archipelago. A free-of-charge poste restante service will be ensured for people who do not have access to any other ways to receive mail.

The sustainability of the right to dividends of the Posti Group Corporation will be examined.

In order to ensure diverse communication throughout the country, an overall examination of the alternatives for the distribution of postal items and newspapers will be examined. Introduction of a parcel point in each municipality will be promoted.

Objective 4

Status of state-owned companies in the transport sector

The role of state ownership steering will be strengthened. Public ownership in companies that are important for the security of supply and traffic safety will be maintained.

In state-owned companies, competitive tendering processes will be economically responsible and sustainable.

Measures

In order to meet the objectives, the role of state ownership steering will be strengthened.

In opening up the passenger rail services to competition, the results of the competitive tendering of commuter rail services of the Helsinki Region Transport will be monitored and in the next tendering processes, the Open Access model will be applied.

It will be examined, whether the use of the dividend income for raising the service level, purchasing transport services and updating the rolling stock would result in better gross revenue than allocating it to the state budget. In 2015–2019, as an owner, VR-Group Ltd paid to the state EUR 640 million in dividends and return of capital as well as EUR 1.4 billion in taxes and tax-like charges.

The service level of VR will be improved and open data interfaces will be provided to make the integration of travel chains possible (broader and more diverse offering of services).

In passenger transport, the requirements concerning the rolling stock must be attended to cost-efficiently paying attention to resource-wise use of the stock throughout its lifecycle.

The opportunity to introduce intelligent infrastructure solutions in maritime transport will be examined, such as remote pilotage by Finnpilot Pilotage Ltd on certain routes. High-level competence and adequate professional skills in maritime areas will be ensured.

Finavia will ensure the implementation of the three-hour accessibility target for the airport infrastructure in those areas where the target cannot be ensured by rail transport. The most efficient way to ensure publicly supported air transport in these areas will be explored. The support for airports outside Finavia’s airport network will be maintained.