The Regional Council launches the Lapland east-west railway study – Eye on the Arctic | So Good News


The railway to Kemijärvi opened in 1934, but was only electrified in 2014. The line is a north-eastern extension of the line from Rovaniemi. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

Tourism, mining and forestry can all benefit from a new railway across Lapland, with a possible extension to the existing track via northern Sweden to Norway’s port in Narvik.

During the study, preliminary route alternatives will be drawn up and their consequences and public hearings will take place, as well as meetings with the local population as early as November this year.

The regional council of Lapland is carrying out the study in collaboration with the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, the Lapland Center for Economic Development, the Finnish Defense Forces and the municipalities affected by a possible new railway track.

First, the idea is to connect the huge copper mining areas north of Sodankylä with a brand new railway to Kittilä and further west to Ylläs.

Kittilä and Ylläs are two of the most important ski resort destinations in Northern Finland.

The new railway connection study will include analysis for a longer option for the new railway, which starts in Kemijärvi and ends in Kolari, the Lapland Regional Council states in a press release.

Timber loading for rail transport in Kolari, Lapland. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

Both Kemijärvi and Kolari are today the terminus of Finland’s two existing railways in the north, and a connection between them will create a loop for the northernmost railway network in Finland.

In Kolari, plans are being developed for reopening of the Hannukainen iron ore mine. Transport needs for existing and new mines in Lapland are a major argument for starting the railway investigation.

The study also examines future transport needs, and links the Lapland Railway to Sweden and Narvik as possible, port city on Norway’s north coast which already serves LKAB in Kiruna and Svappavaara, Europe’s largest iron ore mines. In 2018, the European Commission included the railway from northern Sweden to Norway on its priority list for trans-European rail corridors.

Last year the Regional Council was refused to go ahead with the plans to build a railway connecting Rovaniemi with the Barents Sea in Kirkenes. The so-called Arctic railway line was rejected by an overwhelming majority of the council members after both Sami reindeer herders protested the plans and the Finnish authorities said that such a link had no economic sustainability.

Related stories from across the Nordic region

Canada: Air Canada to stop flying from Yellowknife to Edmonton and Calgary, CBC News

Finland: The Sami Parliament in Finland publishes a digital guide for responsible tourism in Lapland, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Air France launches flights to three destinations above the Arctic Circle, The Independent Barents Observer


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