A year of metro operations to west – the first anniversary of Matinkylä extension

Metro started operating to Matinkylä a year ago on Sunday, 18 November. In November last year, eight new metro stations opened when the 14-kilometre railway between Ruoholahti and Matinkylä in Espoo was completed. According to preliminary information, the use of public transport in Espoo has increased during the year.

Metro became the most important method of transportation in Southern Espoo and Lauttasaari when the most western part of the metro started operation on 18 November 2017. Bus lines that run along Länsiväylä motorway between Kamppi in Helsinki and Espoo became feeder lines to metro stations on 3 January 2018.

”Preliminary data on passenger volumes suggests that the metro has increased the use of public transportation in Espoo,” says Suvi Rihtniemi, the CEO of HSL.

Based on data received from mobile base stations, the number of journeys from Espoo to Helsinki on weekdays increased from December 2017 to January 2018 by around 11%, and the increase was mainly generated by the metro. Ticket sales figures also indicate that travelling has increased: in January–October 2018, Espoo residents bought 7.3% more tickets with their travel card or using a mobile application compared with the same period of time in 2017. At the same time, the growth of car traffic on Länsiväylä motorway has levelled off.

The early stages of metro and feeder busses have gone reasonably well, even though there have been some issues. At peak hours, there have been more passengers in the metro than expected, and in some areas, journey times to the centre of Helsinki have become longer following the change.

In October, HSL introduced four bus lines that operate during peak hours between Kamppi and the western part of Espoo – mainly to reduce the burden on the metro, but also to speed up journey times before the next expansion of the metro from Matinkylä to Kivenlahti will be completed. The plan is to publish information on the effects of bus lines on metro passenger numbers in the near future.

The number of passengers in the western part of the metro seems to have risen slightly during 2018. In 2018, the busiest month was September when the average number of passengers at eight new stations was 56,200 during a weekday. The previous year’s highest figure was measured in March, when the number of passengers was 54,100. The busiest station has still been Matinkylä, where in September there were 16,400 daily passengers during weekdays.

In addition to lines to Kamppi, HSL has also made other, smaller changes to the bus transport and, if necessary, changes will continue to be made.

”We keep a close eye on the number of passengers and strive to provide a good public transport service to everyone,” says Tero Anttila, Director of Public Transport Planning Department at HSL.

Exchange connections between the metro and buses in Tapiola will become considerably easier when the Tapiola bus terminal will open most likely in March. All buses through Tapiola will then be transferred to the new bus terminal that will be completed on Merituulentie.

HKL tested the frequency and transported trainers

HKL operates metro with 36 trains during the peak hours on weekdays. After the expansion of the metro, one of the lines started to run between Matinkylä–Vuosaari and the other between Tapiola–Mellunmäki. During the peak hours on weekdays, the frequency between Tapiola–Itäkeskus has been 2.5 minutes and five minutes between Matinkylä–Tapiola, Itäkeskus–Mellunmäki and Itäkeskus–Vuosaari.

“Traffic on the expanded metro line has stabilised during the year and the number of cancelled train departures due to various reasons has clearly declined. Between July and October, around 99.8% of metro traffic was run as scheduled,” says HKL’s Managing Director Lehmuskoski.

In order to level off congestion, an operating model designed by HSL and HKL was trialled by HKL at the end of August between Tapiola and Matinkylä so that three out of four metro trains ran until Matinkylä. The model turned out to be functional from the technical point of view but it also contains some operational challenges. No decisions have yet been made on the implementation of the model.

Plenty of new metro drivers have been trained this year to meet the needs of the expanded metro.

”Within the past 12 months, a total of 46 drivers have completed their training in four training periods. The fifth training period is currently ongoing,” says Ville Lehmuskoski.

Länsimetro owns the first phase metro and builds the second phase to west

After the start of operations, Länsimetro Oy remained the owner of the railway between Ruoholahti and Matinkylä. Construction continues from Matinkylä to Kivenlahti and it is progressing as planned. The construction works of all second phase stations are launched by the end of 2018. The second phase will be handed over to the operator during 2023.

“The first year has gone without teething, which we are particularly proud of. Länsimetro owns the first phase stations and the railway infrastructure, which is in the best condition in terms of its life cycle. Our duty is to be a responsible owner also in the future and ensure that the property worth a billion euros remains in good condition and serves passengers in the best possible way,” says Länsimetro Oy’s CEO Ville Saksi.

Timo Kauppila, INDAV