The Western Metro ( _fi. Länsimetro, _sv. Västmetron) will be an extension of the Helsinki Metro system from central Helsinki, Finland, to the neighbouring city of Espoo.

Construction is expected to start in 2009 after final approval for a convert|13.5|km|mi route was granted on 2007-04-04. The new stretch of line will be a straight-forward extension from the existing Ruoholahti metro station via the island of Lauttasaari and the Helsinki University of Technology (at Otaniemi) to a new terminus at Matinkylä. A future phase could extend this again, to Kivenlahti.


The proposed metro line would be an extension of the current single metro line from Ruoholahti metro station to the Espoo districts of Tapiola and Matinkylä, through Lauttasaari (an island in western Helsinki). The cities of Espoo and Helsinki jointly founded a company called Länsimetro Oy ( _en. Western Metro Limited) to implement the metro extension from the present Ruoholahti to MatinkyläFact|date=July 2008. The elected CEO of the joint company is Matti Kokkinen.

According to a survey requested by "Helsingin Sanomat" in late 2005, 77% of Espoo residents and 90% of Helsinki residents were in favour of the Western Metro extension [ [http://www.helsinginsanomat.fi/uutiset/tuoreet/artikkeli/1135218177723 "Helsingin Sanomat": The majority of Espooans support the "Länsimetro"] ] .

The Länsimetro project was originally marketed as as a "€450 million project" in the early 2000 and as of 2008 the estimated cost is over €800 million [ [http://www.taloussanomat.fi/liikenne-ja-kuljetus/2008/01/16/lansimetron-hinta-on-nyt-800-miljoonaa/20081467/139 Länsimetron hinta on nyt 800 miljoonaa] ] . The existing Helsinki Metro line and extensions had overrun their original budgets and caused problems for Helsinki finances over a long timeFact|date=July 2008.

In 2002 a series of estimates were published. The running costs were expected be about the same as that of the pre-existing bus system with no reduction in emissions. Most public transport users would experience longer transit times as a result of replacing direct bus lines into Helsinki centre with a two-stage metro plus bus-feeder service combinationhttp://www.espoo.fi/redirect.asp?path=1;28;11866;17468;16395;41718;16390;42402;46346;46348&guid=C7350370-D2CB-4EEB-9B68-AD7E960123D8&site=4&appendvoucher=true] .


The "Länsimetro" was first proposed already when the Helsinki Metro system was first being designed in the 1950s. After the two forks of the Metro line eastwards from Helsinki had been completed, the "Länsimetro" continued to be proposed. Until the early 2000s, Espoo continued to reject such a proposal.

Espoo is the second most populous city in Finland, currently served by road and bus transport. The east-west "Länsiväylä" motorway forming the connection into Helsinki. As the primary passageway between southern Espoo and central Helsinki, the road has been repeatedly enlarged to cope with congestion, but still sees chronic traffic jams at certain lines. Widening the "Länsiväylä" has so-far not affected the traffic jams, instead moving them closer to the centre of Helsinki.

Since the 1990s, the Finnish state with the city of Helsinki have been ready to finance their portions of the project and commence construction. The city of Espoo was still disinterested in the idea. The principal cause of Espoo's lack of interest was because of financing: the state had only agreed to pay 30% of the costs and Espoo had been wanting the state to contribute at least 70%.

Helsinki made an official suggestion to Espoo to construct the "Länsimetro" in 1997. By a year later, on 8 December 1998 the city council of Espoo had decided to only support extending the metro system to Tapiola, leaving off the presently planned continuation to Matinkylä and even Kivenlahti. On 16 February 1999, Espoo changed its statement and showed support for the plans to extend the metro to Matinkylä (but a vote of 48 to 18).

The "Länsimetro" issue was reawakened again in 2002 when a new plan for public traffic in the capital area by YTV was being made. YTV priorised the "Länsimetro" over extension of a light rail line in to Espoo, a view that differed from that taken by Espoo city council. A compromise solution to investigate a "southern Espoo railway connection" (allowing for an express tram) was added, and both this railway connection and a light rail line were scheduled for 2010 to 2020.

Light rail alternative

In conjunction with the "Länsimetro", the Raide-YVA also investigated other forms of public transport, such as a light rail line. Supporters of the light rail line claimed it would be cheaper, faster to implement, and more environment-friendly than a traditional metro line. The primary disadvantage of the metro was seen to be having to build denser housing along the line to make it more profitable. An advantage of the metro line was the existing metro network, and coupling the light rail line to the metro network would have caused all passengers travelling from east Helsinki to Espoo to switch train systems; either in Lauttasaari or Ruoholahti (for the Raide-YVA prospoal) or at the Helsinki Central railway station (for the TramWest proposal). The metro option had the benefit that it would allow for continuous trips from all stations in Espoo to all Helsinki stations from Ruoholahti to Kalasatama and the presents forks beyond.

Opponents of the light rail line claimed it to be an additional form of rail transport to the already diversely composed rail transport network in the capital area. Supporters claimed that the light rail line could be easily integrated to the existing Helsinki tram network, with the work required being cheaper than that of a metro line. TramWest, a shadow plan for the common metro plan among the municipalities was, like Raide-YVA, underestimated in costs, and the line was partly placed in areas where it would have been impossible to implement. TramWest also included many level crossings, which, if done badly, would slow down public transport. The plan would also have caused the parks designed into the Kiasma and Helsinki music house areas to be cut through with a light rail line. The plan would have caused all lines to end at the Elielinaukio square next to the central railway station without integrating to any existing or future railway line.

In early 2008, the TramWest plan was reawakened as an option for the "Länsimetro". This time, all parts of TramWest that had caused criticism the first time around had been resolved. The TramWest line plan will be connected both in "Länsiväylä" and city centre areas, but with the eastern extremity relocated from Elielinaukio square to either Viikki or Laajasalo.

Opponents of the "Länsimetro" often cite light rail transport as an alternative to the metro extension, saying it would be cheaper, faster to build and more environmentally friendly. However, an inquiry carried out for the Espoo city council in 2002 suggested that the metro system would be more profitable.


The long delay over the project, before agreement by of the city of Espoo has resulted in a large estimated cost increase of around €390 million, which Espoo has been unwilling to cover. Espoo is a relatively loosely built city with a lot of detached houses leading to a reputation as an upper middle class city. There have been fears that the building of the "Länsimetro" would create tighter residential centres around each new metro station, and the Espoo "image" might suffer.

Preliminary plans, made in 2000 and 2001, cited the price of the metro extension to Matinkylä to be about 400 million euros. When the Espoo city council decided on construction of the metro, the price estimated in 2004 was 452 million euros. In September 2007, the estimated price of the "Länsimetro" was at least 530 million euros. [Länsimetron hinta noussut ainakin 80 miljoonaa euroa, "Helsingin Sanomat" 9 September 2007 page A11] . In December 2007, Olavi Louko estimated that the price will rise to at least 600 million euros. According to Louko, the price of the excavation work has risen a third more than that of other ground construction work. According to Louko, the reasons for the price increase include all simultaneous excavation work, work for the "Kehärata" in 2009 and security requirements. [Länsimetron hinta on kivunnut jo ainakin 600 miljoonaan euroon, Tarkka hinta riippuu siitä, mitä päättäjät lopulta haluavat. "Helsingin Sanomat" 21 December 2007]

Current project

On September 25 2006, the Espoo city council made an official decision about whether to adopt the "Länsimetro". The result was 45 votes to 19 in favour of the metro. [ [http://www.hs.fi/kaupunki/artikkeli/Espoon+valtuusto+hyv%C3%A4ksyi+metron+%C3%A4%C3%A4nin+45%E2%80%9319/1135221883668 Espoon valtuusto hyväksyi metron äänin 45–19 - HS.fi - Kaupunki ] ] . The construction of the metro will begin as soon as possible.

After Espoo city council had passed the decision allowing tax-generated income to be put towards the extension project—the worry was that such a large expense could conceivably bankrupt Espoo. In response, critics of the decision proceeded to take the municipality of Espoo to the highest administrative court on a charge of "neglect in the decision-making" [(Finnish) [http://www.espoo.fi/dynasty_liite.asp?remote=/kunnari/intrakun_e.nsf/3eff46c7dfc7cb10c2256fe100255374/c84c83e666ba6e10c225741a00258d3b/$FILE/_eapgmoqbkelpmmqbid9imorc440p3i_.1.2008.pdf Valitus Helsingin hallinto-oikeuden 5.12.2007 antamaan päätökseen, joka koski valitusta Espoon kaupunginvaltuuston 25.9.2006 tekemästä päätöksestä Espoon eteläosien joukkoliikennejärjestelmästä (Länsimetro )] ] .


Espoo's criterion for acceptance was that planning for the second stage of the line should also be started. The first stage of the "Länsimetro" is expected to be completed in 2013. The Espoo city council has set a number of requirements for the project:

* The Finnish state must commit to financing the "Länsimetro" extension all the way to Kivenlahti.
* The existing heavy railway line between Leppävaara and Espoo Centre should be widened from two tracks to three, in conjunction with the "Länsimetro" project.
* The orbital "Joker" bus line ( _fi. Jokerilinja) should be converted to a light rail line/tram, as soon as possible.
* The orbital "Kehä I" ring road should be improved.
* The orbital "Kehä II" ring road should be continued around into Helsinki, via Vihdintie, to Hämeenlinnanväylä.

Projected route

A metro line extension was accepted as a basis for further planning in 2000. The locations of the stations was confirmed by the cities of Espoo and Helsinki in June 2007. The extension will be completely underground with the following stations (tentative names):

;Ruoholahti—Matinkylä section:
* Ruoholahti (existing station)
* Lauttasaari
* Koivusaari (last station in Helsinki)
* Keilaniemi (first station in Espoo)
* Otaniemi (Helsinki University of Technology)
* Tapiola
* Niittymaa
* "Niittykumpu" (provision made for building later)
* Matinkylä

Of the stations listed above, the first three would be in Helsinki, the stations after that in Espoo. A station at Niittykumpu will not be built initially, because the population of the area is considered too low. However, the space for a future station will be mined during the construction of the metro line.

ee also

* Helsinki to Tallinn Tunnel, another proposed large-scale public transport project.


External links

* [http://www.lansimetro.info Official web site of the Länsimetro project]
* [http://www.raideyva.fi/ Ruoholahti – Matinkylä track]
* [http://www.helsinginsanomat.fi/uutiset/tuoreet/artikkeli/Selvitys+L%C3%A4nsimetro+olisi+Espoolle+tehokkain+joukkoliikenteen+vaihtoehto/1101981560420 Länsimetro would be the most efficient form of public transport for Espoo] , Helsingin Sanomat
* [http://www.espoo.fi/binary.asp?path=1;28;11866;16304;16395;41718;16390;42402;46346;46348&field=FileAttachment Examination of the need and feasibility of a Länsimetro track from Ruoholahti to Matinkylä (2002)]

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