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No EU funding forthcoming for Helsinki-Tallinn train tunnel

Helsinki still interested in rail link

No EU funding forthcoming for Helsinki-Tallinn train tunnel
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If the cities of Helsinki and Tallinn want to continue planning to link the two cities on opposite sides of the Gulf of Finland with an undersea railway tunnel, they will have to do so without funding from the European Union.
      The Finnish and Estonian capitals applied for planning funds of nearly EUR 800,000 last year to study the feasibility of a rail link between the two cities. The options for such a link would be either a railway tunnel, or a ferry connection carrying railway carriages.
      Helsingin Sanomat has learned that the decision of the EU’s Interreg programme, which will be released on Wednesday, will be negative.
Helsinki has already learned that the funding has been denied, but the reason for the rejection will not come out until Wednesday.
     Helsinki officials have speculated, however, that the main reason is linked with Estonian politics. Staunch supporters of the tunnel project are Helsinki Mayor Jussi Pajunen and Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar.
     “It is clear to anyone who knows Estonian politics, that relations between Tallinn, which is run by the Centre Party, and the country’s government, are not the best possible”, says Olli Keinänen, a leading expert at the international affairs department of the City of Helsinki.
     Even if the tunnel funding had come from the EU, the allocation of the money was decided at a meeting of a Finnish and Estonian delegation. The project was to have been part of the Interreg programme, which allocates funds to joint projects of the Baltic Sea region.
      Merike Niitepõld, who is responsible for Finnish-Estonian projects within the programme, will not comment on the matter before Wednesday.
Helsinki is not giving up on the tunnel project. Now the cities are considering the possibility of paying for the feasibility study out of their own pockets, and sending a new application to Interreg in the future.

Previously in HS International Edition:
  Helsinki-Tallinn tunnel to be re-examined (20.8.2008)
  Mayors of Helsinki and Tallinn revive proposal for rail tunnel under Gulf of Finland (31,3,2008)

Helsingin Sanomat

  13.1.2009 - TODAY
 No EU funding forthcoming for Helsinki-Tallinn train tunnel

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