Study on the possibilities of tram-train transport in North Savo completed
22 June 2020
A study on tram-train transport commissioned by the municipalities of North Savo (Suonenjoki, Kuopio, Siilinjärvi, Lapinlahti and Iisalmi) and the Regional Council of Pohjois-Savo has been completed. The study examined the possibilities to launch passenger transport running on rails within the province of North Savo. The study focused on the Savo railway line between Suonenjoki and Iisalmi. Operation of the route could begin in 4–6 years. The study was carried out by Proxion Oy, an expert company in rail transport.
A combination of tramways and railway lines, tram-train transport is a new form of transport in Finland. The same fleet can run on both railway lines, like a normal passenger train, and in the city centre, like a tram. The solution is used in several European cities.
The purpose of the proposed tram-train is to improve the conditions of commuting and business traffic from municipalities located along the railway to the central city of the province, Kuopio. A tram-train is one of the options for developing efficient, environmentally friendly public transport in the province. A tram-train would also increase regional attractiveness. In addition, it would provide new options for implementing the agreement on land use, housing and transport (MAL agreement).
There are no legal obstacles to launching a tram-train service. Operations can begin 4–6 years from now if the sub-regional unit decides to go ahead with the plan. Before operations can begin, a fleet of vehicles that is suitable for the conditions and track gauge in Finland must be acquired. In addition, the required halts, passing loops and possible routing of the line within cities etc. need to be planned and built.
According to the study, the entire operated route could have 15 halts during the first phase, and approximately 30 halts in total after the second phase. The placement and phasing of the halts should be done while taking regional land use development into consideration.
A suitable headway would be 60 minutes between 5 am and 10 pm, in which case the maximum speed of the vehicles running on the railway network should be 100 km/h. The heavy traffic on the Savo railway line creates a challenge for implementation. There is therefore a need for new passing loops and other changes in the infrastructure of the railway network.
The study also included a preliminary examination of the tram-train routing options in the city centre of Kuopio. One option is to direct some of the trains arriving from Suonenjoki in Iloharju, continue on to Tasavallankatu and further through the city centre to the Savo railway line on the eastern side of the station. The feasibility and calculation of costs of the urban line require more detailed further planning.
To become reality, tram-train transport requires decisions from the sub-regional units concerning e.g. funding, the operator model, the fleet, planning the railway infrastructure, changes etc. It is crucial for further planning that the government and the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, responsible for the management of the public railway network, support and participate in the discussion. The government published a supplementary budget on 2 June whereby it proposes significant investments in traffic routes and, above all, rail transport.
Summary of the final report by Proxion (pdf).
Proxion Oy aims to promote and enhance the feasibility of tram-trains in Finland.
City of Kuopio, Deputy Mayor Jari Kyllönen, +358 44 718 5501, jari.kyllonen(at)kuopio.fi
Regional Council of Pohjois-Savo, Provincial Engineer Patrick Hublin, +358 44 714 2683, patrick.hublin(at)pohjois-savo.fi
Proxion Oy, Timo Savolainen, +358 44 088 2216, timo.savolainen(at)proxion.fi