Transport in Finland

Transport in Finland

The transport system of Finland is well-developed.

The extensive road system is utilized by most internal cargo and passenger traffic. As of 2005, the country's network of main roads has a total length of 13,258 km and all public roads 78,186 km, of which 50,616 km are paved. The motorway network totals 653 km. Road network expenditure of around 1 billion euro is paid with vehicle and fuel taxes that amount to around 1.5 billion euro and 1 billion euro.

The main international passenger gateway is Helsinki-Vantaa Airport with over 13 million passengers in 2007. About 25 airports have scheduled passenger services. They are financed by competitive fees and rural airport may be subsidized. The Helsinki-Vantaa based Finnair (known for an Asia-focused strategy), Blue1 and Finncomm Airlines provide air services both domestically and internationally. Helsinki has an optimal location for great circle routes between Western Europe and the Far East. Hence, many international travelers visit Helsinki on a stop-over between Asia and Europe.

Despite low population density, taxpayers spend annually around 350 million euro in maintaining 5,865 km railway tracks even to many rural towns. Operations are privatized and currently the only operator is VR. It has 5 percent passenger market share (out of which 80 percent are urban trips in Greater Helsinki) and 25 percent cargo market share. [ Transport and communications ministry - Rail] ] Helsinki has an urban rail network.

Port logistics prices were among the lowest in OECD. Vuosaari harbour is the largest container port after completed in 2008. There is passenger traffic from Helsinki and Turku, which have ferry connections to Tallinn, Mariehamn, Sweden and several other destination. The busy Helsinki-Tallinn route is also served by a helicopter line.


Road transport in Finland is the most popular method of transportation, particularly in rural areas where the railway network does not extend to. There are around 78 000 km of public roads, most of which are paved. The main road network comprises over 13 000 km of road, mostly in the south of the country and along the west coast. 63% of all traffic on public roads takes place on main roads, which are divided into class I ("valtatie") and class II ("kantatie") main roads. Motorways have been constructed in the country since the 1960s, but they are still reasonably rare because traffic volumes are not large enough to motivate their construction. There are 700 km of motorways. Longest stretches are HelsinkiTampere (valtatie 3/E12), HelsinkiHeinola (valtatie 4/E75), HelsinkiPorvoo (valtatie 7/E18). Also HelsinkiTurku (valtatie 1/E18) road is mainly motorway with last part finishing in 2008. The world's northernmost motorway is also located in Finland between Keminmaa and Tornio (valtatie 29/E8).Speed limits change depending on the time of the year; the maximum speed limit on motorways is 120 km/h (75 mph) in the summer and 100 km/h (62 mph) in the winter. The main roads usually have speed limits of either 100 km/h or 80 km/h (50 mph). Speed limits in urban areas range between 30 km/h (19 mph) and 60 km/h (37 mph). Finland, like most other European countries, has right-hand traffic.

There are no toll roads in Finland.

As of 2004, there are 2,727,160 cars in Finland, giving a total of 521 cars per a thousand inhabitants. Thus, the average citizen is less likely to own a car in Finland than in other European countries. This is despite the fact that Finland has one of the highest average GDPs in Europe, and probably results in the high quality of public transport in the country.
* see also: Highways in Finland

Coaches and buses

Coaches are mainly operated by private companies and provide services widely across the country. There is a large network of ExpressBus services with connections to all major cities and the most important rural areas. Coach stations are operated by Matkahuolto.

Local bus services inside cities and towns are often tightly regulated by the councils. Many councils also have their own bus operators, such as Helsinki City Transport, which operate some bus lines on a commercial basis in competition with privately owned providers. Regional bus lines are generally less strictly regulated, leading to cartel situations like TLO in the Turku region, but strong regional regulating bodies like the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Council (YTV) exist as well.


The Finnish railway network consists of a total of 5,865 km of railways built with 1524 mm gauge. Passenger trains are operated by the state-owned VR Group. They serve all the major cities and many rural areas, though railway connections are available to fewer places than bus connections. Most passenger train services originate or terminate at Helsinki Central railway station, and a large proportion of the passenger rail network radiates out of Helsinki.

High-speed Pendolino services are operated from Helsinki to other major cities like Joensuu, Kuopio, Oulu, Tampere and Turku. Modern InterCity services complement the Pendolino network, and the cheaper and older long and short distance trains operate in areas with fewer passengers.The Helsinki metropolitan area has three urban rail systems: a tramway system, Helsinki Metro, and the VR commuter rail system. Light rail systems are currently being planned for Turku and Tampere, two of the country's other major urban centres.

Railway links to adjacent countries

* Sweden - break of gauge - 1524mm/1435mm; change of voltage 25 kV AC/15 kV AC
* Russia - small break of gauge 1524mm/1520mm (through running possible).
* Norway - none.

Trams and Light Rail

In Finland, there have been three cities with trams: Helsinki, Turku and Viipuri. Only Helsinki still has retained a tram network. The system operates 11 routes constituting 71 kilometers of tramlines. Around 200,000 passengers use the tram network each weekday and within the inner city of Helsinki, trams have established a position as the main form of public transport. The Viipuri tram system ceased operations in 1957, after the city had been ceded to the Soviet Union, while Turku tram system shut down in 1972.

Air transport

There are 148 airfields, 76 of which have paved runways. 21 airports are served by scheduled passenger flights. By far the largest airport is Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, and the second largest by passenger volume is Oulu Airport. Other international airports include Turku Airport and Tampere-Pirkkala Airport. The larger airports are managed by the state-owned Finavia (formerly the Finnish Civil Aviation Administration), while the smaller ones are usually managed by municipal authorities. Finnair, Blue1 and Finncomm Airlines are the main carriers for domestic flights.

Helsinki-Vantaa airport is Finland's global gateway with scheduled non-stop flights to such places as Bangkok, Beijing, Guangzhou, Nagoya, New York, Osaka, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tokyo. Helsinki has an optimal location for great circle airline traffic routes between Western Europe and the Far East. The airport is located approximately 19 kilometers north of Helsinki's downtown area in Helsinki's northern suburb of Vantaa, thus the name Helsinki-Vantaa.

Tampere-Pirkkala Airport is served by low-fare Ryanair flights to destinations in Europe.

Water transport

Frequent ferry service connects Finland with Estonia and Sweden. Baltic cruise liners regularly call on theport of Helsinki as well. In domestic service, ferries connect Finland's islands with the mainland. Finland's cargo portsmove freight both for Finland's own needs and for transshipment to Russia.

The Finnish Maritime Administration is responsible for the maintenance of Finland's waterway network. Finland's waterways includes some 7,600 kilometres of coastal fairways and 7,900 kilometres of inland waterways(on rivers, canals, and lakes). Saimaa Canal connects Lake Saimaa, and thus much of the inland waterway system of Finland, with the Baltic Sea at Vyborg (Viipuri). However, the lower part of the canal is currentlylocated in Russia. To facilitate through shipping, Finland leases the Russian section of thecanal from Russia (the original agreement with the Soviet Union dates to 1963).


External links

* [ VR Group] (The main site of the Finnish railway company)
* [ Finnish Maritime Administration]
* [ Finnish Road Administration]

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