How HKL is managing the introduction of the West Metro

“How do you eat an elephant?” This was the question put by HKL’s Director of Infrastructure and Equipment, Artturi Lähdetie, in a tweet on 8 May. Lähdetie was referring to the handover to HKL of the West Metro – when Länsimetro has completed its part of the work and testing has been completed, HKL will inspect the station facilities.

HKL’s Director of Maintenance, Toni Jurva, explains that the line has been handed over, station by station, since February-March. HKL has already been responsible for the rail’s electrical power and safety equipment since the autumn of 2016, from the beginning of test runs.

A separate, on-site inspection is carried out for each station.

“Our experts tour all station facilities – public spaces, staff facilities and technical facilities – making observations, documenting them and passing our findings on to Länsimetro. The starting point is overall functionality: the serviceability and maintainability of the site, and the reliability and, above all, safety of metro traffic,” says Jurva.

Test runs reveal deficiencies that would otherwise only be discovered years later

Before transferring station management to HKL, we perform yet another inspection in order to check on previous observations and possible flaws.

“The test runs have revealed various flaws, both small and large, i.e they have demonstrated their importance. The number of deficiencies has fallen as the end of the project has approached. On the other hand, test runs of exceptional situations have revealed unforeseeable flaws, which might have remained hidden for years when running regular passenger transport,” explains Director of Infrastructure and Equipment Lähdetie.

HKL has spent over a year studying the actual facilities, making movement within the stations smooth. In addition, almost all system training has been completed – even twice in some cases.

“The handover of line sections will being based on each station-to-station section. The handover of actual management to HKL will occur when the last station and its service areas have been transferred.”

A pink panther will appear at the Kaitaa construction site – cooperation with students on worksite graffiti.

On an orange construction site fence, a pink panther will peek out from behind a combination of letters. This eight-metre work of art, which will be mounted on the construction site fence, was created by the graffiti artist, Last, one Saturday in May during the KERAPIA urban event in Kera, Espoo.

Kera is a modern industrial area, which will look different in the coming years: there are plans to locate residential buildings, services and commercial premises there. KERAPIA has already been transformed from an abandoned industrial building into an urban laboratory – during the event, Kera played host to dance performances, rap music and a diary club. There was even a workshop in which visitors could try out hoop dancing.

The event was staged by the University of Helsinki and Aalto University’s multidisciplinary Tilapioneerit (space pioneers) course, which aimed to take a participative approach to exploring urban development.

“The event went very well and even the weather was favourable, not a cloud appeared in the sky all day. There was a large crowd, with around 500 visitors during the day and 250 more in the evening,” says organiser Arttu Antila of the University of Helsinki.

Antila believes that the course, which combines lectures and event production, was a successful experience.

“We learned a great deal about urban development and event production from the perspectives of both the City of Espoo and event entrepreneurs,” he says.

At the event, Antila coordinated the implementation of painted graffiti – but needed a plywood ‘canvas’ and a partner before getting down to work. The students got in touch with Länsimetro.

“Länsimetro has had graffiti added to its fences before – Länsimetro and KERAPIA are bringing an urban environment to Espoo in this, their own inimitable way. We thought that Länsimetro would be the right kind of partner,” says Antila.

The Länsimetro office gave the idea the green light and it was agreed that the work would be displayed on the Kaitaa construction site fence after the event.

“Besides, works of art bring colour to otherwise monotonous fences and we have noticed that completed works tend to prevent vandalism,” says site supervisor Pentti Väyrynen, who warmly welcomed the work to its new location.

Graffiti artwork will appear at other Länsimetro sites during the spring. Two graffiti workshops were held in Kivenlahti in May, in collaboration with artist Emilio Mäkipää and the Soukka Youth Centre. Graffiti will also appear on the Matinkylä fence in the early summer.

Cooperation and responsibility are priorities in the second phase of the West Metro

Excavation is progressing for the second phase of the West Metro between Matinkylä and Kivenlahti. Five new stations – Finnoo, Kaitaa, Soukka, Espoonlahti and Kivenlahti – are being completed for this stretch. An underground metro depot is being build for HKL at Sammalvuori.

The second-phase project organisation is moving to joint premises in Olari, Espoo at the end of May. The key actors will be brought under the same roof: government agencies, design, construction, finance, quality and risk management, and other functions.

The lessons learned and experience gained during phase one highlight joint work, responsibility, safety, innovation and quality in particular, as well as smooth everyday life for metro passengers.

Clearer objectives

The objectives of phase two were clarified in project workshops and will direct all work done in phase two.

“We want to build a metro which improves the everyday lives of residents and creates value for every euro spent on it. Open communication with all stakeholders and the transparency of our work is highlighted in everything we do. We have a responsibility towards the taxpayer,” stresses Ville Saksi, the Managing Director of Länsimetro.

The aim is to build a metro which eases the everyday lives of passengers. A clear route and frequent services will ensure that there is no need to keep glancing at a timetable. The metro is a reliable facility that will take you quickly to your destination. Stations are located in places frequented by people, close to services.

It is intended that the metro investment will pay for itself. As an investment it is profitable, high-quality and durable. Innovative solutions are being sought and construction will stimulate overall economic growth in Finland.

The second phase will be built together. Information must flow in every direction. Good work is being rewarded based on the joint objective of getting the metro ready on time. The metro is being built responsibly and safely. Occupational safety is an everyday priority and the reliability and safety of the metro is first class, even by international standards. Responsibility also means accountability towards the taxpayer; we need to stick to schedule and budget, and communications must be open and transparent.


West Metro project office will move

On 29 May 2017, the West Metro project office will move from Tapiola to Olari, closer to the construction sites of the project’s second phase.

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Urheilupuisto station tested – authority inspections begin in June

The joint test runs of the Urheilupuisto station have been completed successfully.

Tests will be carried out in Niittykumpu and Matinkylä to ensure that the systems function together in eleven fire scenarios in the lift lobby, ticket hall, platform and various parts of the rail tunnel. The tests concerning power cuts and flooding have already been completed successfully.

There has been close cooperation with various authorities throughout, and June marks the beginning of the authority inspections. Preparations are also under way for handing over the stations and the rail to HKL.

According to current estimates, metro services could start in September. Bus traffic would change to feeder network routes and a schedule in mid-August at the earliest. Until then the South Espoo and Lauttasaari buses will operate on the current routes alongside the metro service.​ The decision when metro services begin will be made by HSL.


Board of Länsimetro Oy, summary of decisions – 5 May 2017

The Board discussed the commissioning schedule of phase one of the Länsimetro, the Matinkylä-Kivenlahti section. Bulletin.

The Chief Financial Officer of Länsimetro Oy presented the company’s financial situation to the Board.

The next meeting will be held on 23 May.

Further information:

Ville Saksi, CEO, Länsimetro Oy, tel. +358 (0)40 823 2086

Olli Isotalo, Chairman of the Board of Länsimetro Oy, tel. +358 (0)50 593 3359

Media contacts: Satu Linkola,Communications Director, tel. +358 (0)46 877 3392

Länsimetro is moving from testing to regulatory approval. The current estimate is that metro services will start in September

At the beginning of June, Länsimetro will move from the testing phase to the regulatory inspection phase and the handing over of the stations and the rail to HKL will be prepared. After the regulatory inspections and the rectification of any defects discovered during the inspections, the metro can be opened to the public. According to current estimates, metro services could start in September. Bus traffic would change to feeder network routes and a schedule in mid-August at the earliest. Until then the South Espoo and Lauttasaari buses would operate on the current routes.

Länsimetro’s introduction into use is moving to the regulatory inspection phase. Sufficient time must be set aside for rectifying any defects discovered during inspections.

“Länsimetro is ready to operate as soon as final approval has been received. According to my estimation, metro services will start in September 2017”, states Ville Saksi, CEO of Länsimetro Oy, who is responsible for the construction work.

HKL, who are responsible for operating the metro services, have been performing trial runs on the Länsimetro section during the winter and spring. The trial runs have gone well and will be completed on 14 May 2017.

“The Länsimetro trial runs have been successful and have made it possible to ensure that the metro will also function in various exceptional situations. When it is opened to the public the metro will be reliable and safe”, says Ville Lehmuskoski, CEO of HKL.

After the regulatory inspections have been completed, Länsimetro, HKL and HSL will decide the final start date of metro and feeder services. However, bus feeder traffic will not start when the autumn traffic commences on 14 August 2017. Instead, the South Espoo and Lauttasaari buses will continue to run on the current routes.

“Our basic principle is that passengers’ mobility in South Espoo and Lauttasaari is ensured in all situations”, states Suvi Rihtiniemi, CEO of HSL. “Bus operators also need at least two months to plan traffic and work schedules.”

The metro and current bus routes will operate simultaneously for some time before transferring to feeder traffic. This way, we will gain valuable experience about metro traffic on the Länsimetro section.

Further information:

Ville Saksi, CEO, Länsimetro Oy, tel. +358 (0)40 823 2086

Olli Isotalo, Chairman of the Board of Länsimetro Oy, tel. +358 (0)50 593 3359

Suvi Rihtniemi, CEO, HSL, tel. +358 (0)50 565 8884

Ville Lehmuskoski, CEO, HKL, tel. +358 (0)40 520 6710

West Metro excavations will continue in Kivenlahti until autumn 2017

A terminal station will be built at Kivenlahti during the second phase of the West Metro. Tunnel excavations are currently underway at the Kivenlahti site, which is already around 95 per cent ready and will be completed in May-June 2017.

During weeks 19-20, embankment excavation for the Kivenlahti station will begin in the vicinity of Meriusva 1 and last around three months. All excavations for the Kivenlahti station are expected to reach completion in August-September 2017; until then, the effects of excavation will also be evident in the neighbourhood of Meriusva 1.

Excavation is currently under way at the site and rock bolt reinforcement is being carried out in the east line tunnels and the western shaft chamber. Shaft excavation is under way and reinforcement bolts are being installed in the east and west escalator shaft. Both escalator shafts have been excavated all the way to the surface. The final shotcreting is being performed as a reinforcement measure in the eastern turnout chamber.

At the end of the excavation process, a final inspection will be performed of the buildings located within a 150-metre radius of the excavation work, to chart any possible effects of the excavations. The inspection of Meriusva 1 is scheduled for the early autumn; this will be announced closer to the time.

You can use the Länsimetro monitoring service to follow the progress of the excavation (  Excavated tunnels are marked in green and the locations of stations in red.

Smoke extraction fans to be tested in Lauttasaari on 10 May 2017

Smoke extraction fans will be test run on Wednesday 10 May 2017, starting at 6pm in the east shaft of the Lauttasaari station. The test runs will continue until later in the evening, and an occasional buzzing noise may be heard from the West Metro shafts during testing. We apologise for any noise disturbance.

The smoke extraction fans will be used in emergencies or during maintenance to blow smoke from underground areas through the shafts to open air.

A total of 32 smoke extraction fans have been installed in the Ruoholahti–Matinkylä section.

Further information:

Länsimetro feedback phone number (Mon–Fri 9.00–15.00), tel. +358 50 377 3700

Rescue exercises prepare for the unlikely

The last tests are currently underway at West Metro phase one stations, including rescue exercises, already conducted at the Tapiola and Koivusaari stations. The most recent exercise was carried out on four days in late April in Lauttasaari by a total of eight rescue units and some 30 firefighters.

“Before the actual exercise begins, the metro train is driven to a predetermined location either at the station or in a tunnel and smoke machines and rescue dummies are placed in position. We review the rescue scenario and the course of the exercise,” says Jani Pitkänen, Fire Chief at Helsinki City Rescue Department, in charge of the exercise.

Metro fires rare worldwide

The exercise in April was about preparing for a metro car fire at the station.  A total of six dummies were to be rescued, three from a car at the end of the train, two from the second car and the last one from the metro exit corridor.

“The exercises involve 75 percent of technical systems testing and 25 percent training for our own firefighters. We conduct as extensive tests as possible of the technical equipment supporting rescue operations and seek to find possible hidden defects,” says Pitkänen.

Rescue exercises are arranged at all stations before they can be opened for use.

“In actual fact metro fires are highly unusual even on a global scale. This practice is about a situation in which either a technical fault or another sudden event ignites a violent fire on board a metro train,” says Pitkänen.

Smoke extraction blows the smoke away

The fire scenario created for the exercise is as realistic as possible to enable the rescue department to test the functionality of the station and its own skills. The exercise begins with smoke machines blowing white artificial smoke onto the platform. This smoke is harmless to humans but it blocks visibility effectively so that very soon, the other end of the platform cannot be seen.

The smoke will slowly fill the metro car driven to the station, where the dummies to be rescued are situated.

The actual alarm will be given by the HKL metro driver participating in the exercise. Soon, the alarm announcement will reverberate around the station in three languages, Finnish, Swedish and English: “Use the nearest exit, please follow the green exit signs.”

The automatic smoke extraction that starts at the same time will remove the smoke screen quickly. Water will stream from nozzles on both sides of the metro car as the extinguishing system, customised for metro trains, is activated.

To safety along the escalators or in evacuation elevators

The doors to escalators will close automatically when the alarm starts – passengers will be able to use them for exiting but the doors close to prevent smoke from escaping from the platform. Only the ascending escalators are functioning to prevent anyone from accidentally descending towards the fire on the platform.

The rescue arrangements also accommodate passengers with reduced mobility, as there is an evacuation elevator at both ends of the station for those who are unable to use the escalator. As soon as the elevator receives the alarm, it will automatically run to the level where the fire is and will not open until it reaches a safe exit level.

There is a special elevator for the exclusive use of firefighters for rescue purposes.

The weight of rescue dummies equivalent to real humans

Patients during the exercise are dummies who will first be taken into as safe space which the fire cannot reach, which in this case is the smoke-free area behind the escalator doors.

A firefighter carrying a dummy says into the radiophone: “Assistance for carrying required here.” The dummies weighing 70–80 kg correspond to real humans. During the exercise, one dummy is carried by at least two rescuers.

The firefighters bend down to the dummies and tie them onto the stretchers as if they were real patients. There is no time to lose, however, as the laminated info labels attached to the dummies indicate that some of the patients are seriously injured.  The emergency care staff present would help in a real situation.

The firefighters lift the stretchers up promptly and carry them towards the nearby evacuation lifts next to the escalator.

Tunnel rescue practice included

Once the dummies are safely in the elevators and station halls, the situation on the platform has calmed down. The smoke has cleared and control room staff is negotiating which metro shaft to use for ventilating the smoke. In a real situation, ambulances would meet the patients at the station, but now rescue department vehicles already surround the station.

Finally, the running of the exercise is reviewed with all participants. The firefighters take off their helmets and focus on listening to Jani Pitkänen who led the exercise.

“All in all, well done! Thanks everyone,” says Pitkänen.

Further information:

Länsimetro feedback phone +358 (0)50 377 3700