Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the West Metro.
Construction is at the testing phase. Systems testing will ensure that all of the 52 different systems function safely and as planned under all conditions. The power on the rail line was turned on in summer 2021, after which test runs began.
The testing phase will continue during autumn 2021 and winter 2021 with testing at each metro station, in which the functioning of the metro station, adjacent stations and rail line systems in various exceptional situations will be tested. The testing phase will be followed by approvals from authorities and the preparations for starting up the service made by Metropolitan Area Transport Ltd, which operates the trains, and the preparatory measures by HSL (Helsinki Region Transport) on the part of feeder traffic, for example. According to Metropolitan Area Transport Ltd, HSL and Länsimetro, metro traffic can start up on the new section during 2023.
Before the commissioning of the metro, point testing, test runs and so-called scenario testing are used to ensure the proper functioning of the metro in different emergency situations, such as during power outages, fire or flooding. The metro comprises 52 different systems related to functionality and safety.
On the Ruoholahti–Matinkylä section, scenario testing began at the Aalto University station in October 2016, continuing during the winter and spring at other stations. Test runs were completed at Niittykumpu and Matinkylä in May 2017. After this followed the official inspection phase, which continued until autumn 2017. The commissioning of the metro was ensured through the co-operation of all of the parties in November 2017.
On the Matinkylä–Kivenlahti section, scenario tests will begin in autumn 2021 and continue throughout winter 2022. After testing is completed, we will announce the precise date for the starting of the metro service. The estimate is that the service can start during 2023.
The Matinkylä–Kivenlahti section’s regulatory inspections include inspections by the fire and rescue department and building inspection authorities.
On the Matinkylä–Kivenlahti section, Espoo’s and Helsinki’s Rescue Departments have approved the security systems based on test results. Subsequently, Espoo’s and Helsinki’s building authorities have approved the opening of the stations and rail tunnels to passenger traffic. Metropolitan Area Transport Ltd has ensured that the track engineering security systems, including semaphore systems and indicators, are working properly. In practice, the building authorities had the task of approving hundreds of thousands of electronic documents. The rescue authorities carried out their own safety inspections of the metro. On 22 September 2017, in phase I, the Ruoholahti–Matinkylä building inspection authorities approved the opening of the metro for passenger traffic.
The metro will start operating from Matinkylä to Kivenlahti in Espoo on Saturday 3 December 2022.
The construction and development of the stations’ surroundings also has an impact on when the various metro entrances can be opened for passengers. In Kivenlahti, for example, passengers will have access to only one of the station’s two entrances – the Kivenlahdentori entrance – when the metro service starts. At the Finnoo station, the incomplete construction work near the station will affect commuting for years to come: either the Finnoonsilta or Meritie entrance will always be available to passengers and accessible and safe entrance will be guaranteed at the metro station. The Iivisniemenkallio entrance of the Kaitaa metro station is an option and it will not be opened to passengers when metro service starts. At Soukka and Espoonlahti, both entrances will be open when metro traffic begins.
The metro stations’ names are Finnoo, Kaitaa, Soukka, Espoonlahti and Kivenlahti. The stations are usually named after the district. When the new stations were named, the Kaitaa and Finnoo metro stations’ names caused some confusion.
Kaitaa’s name is based on the official name of the district in which the metro station is located. The residents in the vicinity of the stations know the area as Iivisniemi because the Kaitaa district includes the Finnoo, Hannus, Hannusjärvi, Hyljelahti, Iivisniemi and Kaitamäki areas. The metro traffic serves the entire district.
Finnoo was selected as the name of the metro station because the City of Espoo is building a new residential area, to be named Finnoo, around the station. The area is also known as Suomenoja, but the City of Espoo has decided that its official name will be Finnoo. The original name of the area was Finnoo, derived from the Swedish Finno. The name was subsequently changed to Suomenoja and now the name has been changed back to Finnoo.
Below are the estimated travel times:
- Kivenlahti–Matinkylä: about 10 minutes
- Kivenlahti–Tapiola: about 15 minutes
- Kivenlahti–Rautatientori: about 29 minutes
- Kivenlahti–Hakaniemi: about 31 minutes
- Kivenlahti–Itäkeskus: about 43 minutes
The Board of HSL (Helsinki Region Transport) approved the bus routes and feeder network route in South Espoo on 25 May 2021. Read more about bus routes on HSL’s website. HSL is responsible for the passenger traffic and feeder connections in its operating area. Länsimetro Oy will remain the owner and developer of the Matinkylä–Kivenlahti section after construction.
Additional information on tickets and the metro service is available in HSL’s Journey Planner.
HSL (Helsinki Region Transport) plans and procures public transport in its operating area, approves its fare and ticketing systems and ticket prices, is responsible for its marketing and travel advice, organises ticket sales, and is responsible for ticket inspection. Thus, HSL answers questions concerning passenger traffic. Metropolitan Area Transport Ltd is responsible for the metro service.
See the answer to the question “What is the role of Länsimetro Oy in metro traffic?”.
It is not. The Soukantori entrance building has two doors on two levels: the Soukantori level and Soukantie level. When using the Soukantie entrance, passengers first go up to the Soukantori level either by lift or the stairs and then continue directly down using the lift. All of the West Metro’s entrances are accessible, which is ensured in this case with the lift. Passengers can use four through-car lifts, which provide direct access to the station platform. One lift fits 30 people at a time. Based on assessments, most of the passengers will travel through the Soukantori entrance.
The Soukantori entrance has no escalators; instead passengers use the lift to directly access the metro platform. According to studies, this is absolutely the fastest and smoothest route. The escalator option would have required passengers to use two sets of escalators, which would have meant a 20–30-metre-long corridor in between. To optimise the lift’s operation and travel time, the lift does not stop at the Soukantie level. The stop would increase the travel time by 10–15 seconds, according to estimates.
The metro station platforms have the same edge warning markings as Helsinki’s metro stations. Länsimetro Oy invited representatives of the visually impaired to participate in the Ruoholahti–Matinkylä section station’s accessibility inspection in 2017. On this occasion, representatives of the visually impaired stated that the warning stripe should be made more effective at both old and new metro stations. For the safety of visually impaired passengers, Metropolitan Area Transport Ltd and Länsimetro Oy have agreed that the yellow warning stripe along the station platform edge at a distance of one metre should be enhanced with an additional stripe or strip that can be felt by touch.
Sound beacons have been installed at the outer doors of the stations and at inner doorways leading to lifts. The sound beacons emit a periodic sound that allows people to navigate towards the correct door or check that they are going in the right direction. During emergencies, announcements will be made. In addition, all renovated old metro line stations and all West Metro stations have extensive embossed and fluorescent floor signs for visually impaired passengers.
Also the metro stations along the Matinkylä–Kivenlahti section have taken into consideration the accessibility of the visually impaired with the same solutions as at the Ruoholahti–Matinkylä section’s stations and accessibility inspections have been carried out.
The West Metro is designed for an automated metro and its construction has anticipated that an automated system will be the eventual form of the service. The current metro service, operated by drivers, is an intermediate stage in the Helsinki metropolitan area’s metro service.
Länsimetro is a company jointly owned by the cities of Helsinki and Espoo. In 2006, HKL (nowadays Metropolitan Area Transport Ltd) decided to automate the entire Helsinki region metro service. The length of the West Metro’s platforms was based on the automation decision. The automation decision was also the basis for the West Metro’s first phase (the Ruoholahti–Matinkylä section) project plan, which was completed in 2008. Based on the automation decision, HKL (nowadays Metropolitan Area Transport Ltd) also acquired the current new M-300 metro train fleet, which is the length of two pairs of cars, i.e. approximately 90 metres.
The decision-making history can be found on the City of Helsinki’s website.
The service ability and capacity of the metro can be improved, for instance, by shortening the interval between trains – this can be done by improving the ATC systems. Metro automation is an internationally common way of increasing capacity. In the shorter term, metro congestion can be relieved using lighter measures, such as supplementary bus service.
Read more: Automaattimetro ei tarvitse pidempiä laitureita – maailmalla perinteisten metrolinjojen automatisointibuumi jatkuu (Automated metro does not need longer platforms – automation trend continues on world’s traditional metro lines)
HKL’s release on 8 January 2021: Metron matkustajamäärät kasvavat – kuljetuskapasiteettia parannetaan (Metro’s passenger volumes growing – transport capacity improved)
To ensure that passengers will fit onto the trains, a new metro control system was introduced in December 2012. The new signal box enabled service at 2.5-minute intervals, while the minimum interval was previously 4 minutes. In August 2016, HKL (nowadays Metropolitan Area Transport Ltd) adopted a 2.5-minute service frequency.
As the West Metro services began in 2017, the entire metro system was transferred to 90-metre trains comprising two pairs of cars. During peak hours, the trains will run at 2.5-minute intervals, which means that 96 cars will be in service during the course of one hour, instead of the earlier 90. This has improved the service standard as trains run more frequently.
Additional capacity is needed as the number of passengers increases. Metropolitan Area Transport Ltd is responsible for metro traffic and HSL is responsible for planning and acquiring public transport for its operating area. Read more about increasing the metro’s capacity in HKL’s release on 8 January 2021: Metron matkustajamäärät kasvavat – kuljetuskapasiteettia parannetaan (Metro’s passenger volumes growing – transport capacity improved)
Länsimetro does not own any metro trains. In addition to the service and maintenance of the rail line and stations, Metropolitan Area Transport Ltd is responsible for metro traffic and owns the metro trains. See the question on Länsimetro Oy’s role in the metro service.
Länsimetro currently has eight stations: Lauttasaari, Koivusaari, Keilaniemi, Aalto University, Tapiola, Urheilupuisto, Niittykumpu and Matinkylä.
The Matinkylä-Kivenlahti section of the West Metro will be completed in 2023. Five new stations will be commissioned: Finnoo, Kaitaa, Soukka, Espoonlahti and Kivenlahti.
Shafts are “holes” excavated from ground level to the rail line, for the purposes of ventilation, smoke extraction and pressure equalisation. The shafts will also serve as emergency exits, for example if a metro train were to stop in a metro tunnel in an emergency. The middle of the shaft contains a fire-compartmented escape route staircase. On the West Metro’s metro line, exit shafts are located roughly every 600 metres. The shafts are an average of 40–50 metres high. There are seven shaft buildings along the Matinkylä–Kivenlahti section. There are 15 shaft buildings from Ruoholahti to Matinkylä
Länsimetro Oy’s task is to build, own, maintain and develop the West Metro system, tracks and stations from Ruoholahti westwards. The transport operator and developer of the rail section and stations from Ruoholahti eastward is the City of Helsinki, more precisely Metropolitan Area Transport Ltd. Metropolitan Area Transport Ltd also owns the metro trains.
As the metro system and infrastructure owner, Länsimetro Oy’s task is to ensure that the West Metro’s metro system and its stations provide a safe commuting environment throughout their lifecycle.
Länsimetro Oy handed over the rail line and stations of the Ruoholahti–Matinkylä section to HKL (nowadays Metropolitan Area Transport Ltd) on 3 October 2017 to start the service. However, the rail line and stations, including their technical systems, remain in the ownership of Länsimetro Oy. Metropolitan Area Transport Ltd reports to Länsimetro Oy on the use of the rail line and stations and related service and maintenance tasks as agreed. Based on an estimate, the Matinkylä-Kivenlahti section will be handed over to Metropolitan Area Transport Ltd in 2023.
HSL (Helsinki Region Transport) plans and procures public transport in its operating area, approves its fare and ticketing systems and ticket prices, is responsible for its marketing and travel advice, organises ticket sales, and is responsible for ticket inspection. In addition to the service and maintenance of the rail line and stations, Metropolitan Area Transport Ltd is responsible for metro traffic and owns the metro train fleet.
The construction of the West Metro is proceeding in two phases. Currently, Länsimetro Oy is building the Matinkylä–Kivenlahti section. The Espoo City Council approved an adjusted project plan on 19 March 2018. The adjusted cost estimate for construction for the second phase, i.e. the Matinkylä–Kivenlahti section, is EUR 1,159 million. The cost of the project also includes cost increases and financing costs during construction. The costs for the excavation work of the Matinkylä–Kivenlahti section were approximately EUR 14 million lower than budgeted.
Passenger traffic on the West Metro’s first section from Ruoholahti to Matinkylä began in November 2017. The first phase was completed in October 2020 when the western entrance of the Matinkylä station was commissioned. The final cost for the Ruoholahti–Matinkylä section’s project plan was EUR 1,171 million.
Up-to-date information on costs can be found in the Financials section of the website.
The metro is an investment providing a sustainable basis for urbanisation-driven growth far into the future. By 2050, Espoo will grow by 70,000 new inhabitants. High quality public transport that enables everyday life to run smoothly will create the preconditions for growth in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable way. The metro, built underground, will enable the efficient use of land above ground. The travel chain concept will be realised in the best possible way, with services being located precisely where the flow of people is.
At the West Metro’s project planning phase, aboveground and underground metro options were considered. An underground metro line and its stations leave space on the surface for residential and other construction, for example. The City of Espoo is developing and growing near the metro stations, and the area above ground is needed for the expanding city. Modern metro stations require a lot of space as they are approximately 20,000 square metres. Most of the premises consist of technical spaces that are invisible to passengers. It has even been difficult to find space in the urban environment for the aboveground buildings, i.e. the entrances and shafts, of the underground construction. In addition, it is considerably easier to provide park and ride facilities and bus terminals for underground stations than for aboveground solutions.
The metro line runs through a densely built residential area and the stations are located close to other services at convergence points for people. The surface option would have involved extensive and costly construction work in the street network, such as bridges crossing over the tracks and tunnels going under. In addition, traffic flows above ground would have been disrupted, causing congestion for other forms of traffic and impeding the flow of foot traffic and bicycling.
The aboveground metro line of the Matinkylä–Kivenlahti section passes through a flying squirrel habitat. The construction of a surface metro line would not have been possible in such areas.
The operation of an underground metro is more secure than an aboveground one, because, for example, the underground metro is unaffected by weather. In addition, it would not be possible to build parts of the line above ground, because this would add to the number of tunnel entrances. Open tunnel entrances would make temperature control more difficult. Height differences would also be a problem, due to the line geometry of the metro.
The completion of the Ruoholahti–Matinkylä section was delayed because not enough time had been reserved for the final work and commissioning phases. The West Metro is not only Finland’s largest infrastructure project, but also a challenging HVAC and electricity and automation project. There was no previous experience of a commissioning phase for a project of this magnitude and complexity. The commissioning phase, including testing and regulatory inspections, proceeded smoothly, but required considerably more time and effort from all parties than anticipated.
Read more: This is how the first phase was built