Helsinki Škoda Transtech LRV impression

FINLAND: Helsinki transport operator HKL has exercised an option for Škoda Transtech to supply 23 light rail vehicles for use on the future 10 km line across the Crown Bridges, three major bridges which will link the Laajasalo district of eastern Helsinki with Korkeasaari island, the Kalasatama district and the city centre.

The Crown Bridges project is being developed the City of Helsinki, YIT, NRC Group Finland, Ramboll Finland, Sweco Infra & Rail and Sitowise.

Construction is expected to begin later this year, with light rail services from the main railway station to Yliskylä and Haakoninlahti expected to start in 2027. The light rail route will be paralleled by a ‘high-quality’ bicycle route and walkway.

Designed for Nordic conditions

The ForCity Smart Artic X54 LRVs will be identical to 29 previously ordered for the Raide-Jokeri orbital light rail Route 550 which is under construction between Helsinki and Espoo.

Helsinki currently has 70 Type X34 trams, the forerunner of the X54, and the latest order announced on February 5 will take the the total number of Artic trams in the Helsinki area to 122.

A further 19 are currently being supplied to Tampere, and three have previously been delivered to Schöneiche near Berlin in Germany.

‘The Artic trams which have been gradually introduced since 2013 have worked well from HKL’s point of view, and citizens have also been satisfied with them’, said HKL CEO Ville Lehmuskoski.

Ordering identical vehicles for the various projects would provide economies of scale throughout the life cycle, Lehmuskoski added.

He said the X54 LRVs were the ‘big brother of the Artic vehicle in the city centre’, with the design taking into account the challenges of Helsinki’s infrastructure and climate; agreement has recently been reached for the sale of 40 Adtranz/Bombardier Variotrams which were found to be unsuitable for use in Helsinki.

Škoda Transtech CEO Juha Vierros said ‘we are proud of this most advanced light rail vehicle on the market, where the multi-articulated structure is combined with fully pivoting bogies’. The Artic family offers a ‘modern high-speed LRV which can also be used on the city centre tramway’, and had been designed for ‘demanding’ Nordic conditions and a ‘variable’ network.