HELSINKI City Transport has started discussions with the neighbouring city of Espoo for a possible western extension of its metro beyond the present terminus at Ruoholahti. This would serve the rapidly-growing residential areas in southern Espoo, which have a population of around 280000 and are expected to grow significantly by 2002.

The line would follow the western motorway out of the city, serving the island of Lauttasaari and Keilaniemi. It would then loop north to Otaniemi and continue west through Espoo to Tapiola, Nittymaa and Matinkylä. An alternative option under consideration could serve Lehtisaari instead of Keilaniemi. The length would be around 11·6 km.

HKL Managing Director Martti Lund says metro traffic has jumped substantially since the opening of the eastern branch to Vuosaari on August 31 1998. To simplify operations and spread the fleet of 42 married pairs over both routes the use of six-car trains at peak times has ended; all trains now run as four-car sets. With a basic 5 min headway, alternate trains from the city centre run to Vuosaari and Mellunmäki. Capacity will be increased by the arrival in 2001-02 of 12 extra two-car units from Bombardier.

Traffic is also growing rapidly on HKL’s tram network, up from 49·1 million passengers in 1994 to 55 million this year. The arrival of the 20 new Adtranz Variotrams will provide some relief, but Tramways Manager Timo Ketola says that 10 of the 22 old bogie cars built in 1959 that they were due to replace will now have to remain in traffic.