High Speed Trains Need Commuters

The new Finnish ministers are not good at maths – it is clear that they do not have a clue about balancing budgets.

The first thing their former colleagues did was to build a couple of motorways between Helsinki and Lahti and Helsinki and Turku by paying Skanska to build them for an annual service fee paid over some 20 years after which it became the government’s property.

Skanska is the biggest Nordic construction company, and they understood the maths by charging such a high fee that the government could have built the same motorways itself for 30% to 40% cheaper. Skanska was probably generous in supplying pocket money for the rightwing parties at their next general elections.

But that was history, and well documented history, which is on public record!

Now the new PM here in Helsinki wants to build a high-speed train between Helsinki and Turku. It is no government secret that he is from Turku and likes to get home to the wife on Fridays evenings to enjoy a glass of beer, grilled sausage with good lashings of the famous mustard made in Turku, after soaking off in sauna.

He claims that the costs are estimated by his team to be around €3.7 billion according to figures seen in the press. However, the Brits are now paying around €240 million for 1 km of track, while the French paid €27 for 1 km in today’s money!

Building a new high-speed train will definitely cost more than the French paid 6 years ago but much less than the wasteful Brits – let’s say that it will cost between €50 million and €80 million for each kilometer. That gives a final price of the 165 km stretch of between €8 billion and €13 billion. That means that ticket prices will be high, very high just to cover the costs if there are enough passengers, but…

… the Turku motorway is seldom over-used and the time saving for busy commuters is not great because you still need to get to the station and go to your meeting place at the other end. Driving in your own car is faster and probably a lot cheaper.

… and your correspondent finds it hard to believe that there will be enough paying passengers for such a fast train except for the PM of course…

Then there is the question of their new austerity budget, but further comments on that will be coming shortly…

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