Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the West Metro.
Länsimetro Oy is the owner of modern metro infrastructure that will stand the test of time. Länsimetro’s task is to ensure that the metro infrastructure it owns is in good condition and safe throughout its life cycle. Read more about Länsimetro Oy.
Länsimetro Oy is the owner of the modern metro infrastructure that will stand the test of time. The Helsinki region’s metro line is the backbone of public transport from west to east. Länsimetro Oy owns the metro infrastructure from Helsinki’s Ruoholahti westward until Kivenlahti in Espoo. Länsimetro operates in the background of the public transport operators as the expert organisation for owning and developing the metro infrastructure.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.
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.Metropolitan Area Transport Ltd is responsible for metro traffic and owns the metro train fleet.
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.
Länsimetro Oy owns the modern metro infrastructure that will stand the test of time: 13 metro stations,an underground metro depot and a 21-kilometre-long rail section. Länsimetro also owns the infrastructure that serves feeder traffic, for instance, Park & Ride facilities and bus terminals.
Länsimetro Oy owns 13 metro stations. The metro stations are: Lauttasaari, Koivusaari, Keilaniemi, Aalto University, Tapiola, Urheilupuisto, Niittykumpu, Matinkylä, Finnoo, Kaitaa, Soukka, Espoonlahti and Kivenlahti.
All the entrances are not available to passengers yet.
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 have access to only one of the station’s two entrances – the Kivenlahdentori entrance. The station’s western entrance was not opened to commuters due to other ongoing construction in the area.
In Koivusaari the entrance on the Koivusaari side is completed and waiting for the surrounding area to be developed.
The Iivisniemenkallio entrance of the Kaitaa metro station is an option and it not be opened to passengers.
The platforms are approximately 90 metres. The length of the West Metro’s platforms was based on the automation decision. 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.
In 2006, HKL (nowadays Metropolitan Area Transport Ltd) decided to automate the entire Helsinki region metro service. 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 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.
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.
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 23 shaft buildings. Read more about shafts.
The West Metro was built in two phases. Länsimetro Oy has been responsible for the overall construction of the West Metro in accordance with the project plan, first from Ruoholahti to Matinkylä, and then for the second phase of construction from, Matinkylä to Kivenlahti.
The final cost of the Ruoholahti–Matinkylä section specified in the project plan was EUR 1,171 million. The final cost estimate of Matinkylä-Ruoholahti section is EUR 1,042–1,050 million.
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 began in autumn 2021 and ended in April 2022.
The Matinkylä–Kivenlahti section’s regulatory inspections included 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 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
Additional capacity is needed as the number of passengers increases. 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)
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)
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.