Lahti cut-off started
FINNISH rail infrastructure authority RHK has started construction of the long-planned direct line from Kerava to Lahti, which will shorten the routes to the northeast and east of the country. Scheduled for completion in 2006, the 74 km route includes 63route-km of new alignment. Total cost is estimated at €331m, with a benefit:cost ratio of 2·0 over 30 years.
The double-track electrified line is designed for 220 km/h. It will be equipped with automatic train protection and will have no level crossings. About 80% of the route parallels the existing Helsinki - Lahti motorway. The project includes construction of 76 bridges plus new stations in Haarajoki and Mäntsälä.
With the fastest Helsinki - Lahti journey time cut from 82 to 44min, the new line is expected to be carrying around 4·3 million passengers/year in 2010. Shifting services to and from eastern Finland onto the new route will also release capacity on the existing main line for traffic to the north via Tampere.
In December 2001 RHK signed an agreement for Lemminkäinen Construction Ltd to act as main contractor for the new line. The company subsequently opened its project office at Mäntsälä in July 2002. Construction work was launched at the site of the Luhdanmäki railway bridge at the border between the districts of Hollola and Orimattila.