Serious water damage could close Helsinki’s busiest Metro station for months (updated 18:40)
Water main causes millions of euros in damage
A burst water main caused a major flood at the Metro station of Helsinki’s Central Railway Station on Sunday and could force the closure of the city’s busiest station of the underground Metro system for months.
Helsinki City Transport estimates that repairing the water damage could cost millions of euros.
From Sunday afternoon, all five Metro stations west of Sörnäinen were closed because of the flooding. Today, Monday, Metro service will be available all the way to Kaisaniemi station, which means that only three stations will remain out of commission.
Transport authorities had hoped that on Tuesday, Metro service might have been restored to the west, with trains passing the Central Railway Station without stopping, and going on to the Kamppi and Ruoholahti stations.
On Monday afternoon it was announced that Kaisaniemi would continue to be the westernmost stop on Tuesday as well, with a special bus line, 65X taking passengers from Kaisaniemi to Ruoholahti.
A number of buildings in the centre of Helsinki were without water. Ari Nevalainen, head of communications at Helsinki Water, said that water would probably be restored to the buildings on Monday.
At least some of the shops in the subterranean Station Tunnel will remain closed on Monday.
The ruptured pipe was noticed at about 3:30 Sunday afternoon, when water started gushing down to the Metro track level from above.
At first, trains continued to operate, moving past the station without electricity. Later in the afternoon, all traffic west of Sörnäinen was stopped.
Traffic on Kaivokatu was restricted because of the repair work.
There are no precise estimates on the amount of water that leaked out of the water main, but officials believe that it was in the thousands of cubic metres.
The Helsinki City Rescue Department and Helsinki Water pinpointed one leak at about 6:00 in the evening, but water continued to flood into the station later in the evening as well.
After hours of digging, the main leak was found at 10:15 PM.
The water was up to 20 cm. Deep on the Metro station platforms. Pumping it all out is expected to take a long time.
The head of Metro transport at Helsinki City Transport, Tapio Hölttä, says that the water damage was suffered by the structures of the station. Walls and doors fell under the pressure of the water. Elevators and escalators will possibly need to be replaced with new ones.
“It is hard to say how much it will cost to repair them, as they aren’t goods you can buy off a shelf. The cost will be in the millions of euros in any case.”
The rails and the electric equipment were not damaged. Tapio Hölttä says that the electric equipment was so high above the surface of the flooding water, that it is not in danger.
The Helsinki Metro is used by about 200,000 passengers daily.
The Central Railway Station is the busiest Metro station on the line, and is used daily by 60,000 passengers.
Helsinki City Transport