Break on Through to the Other Side With the launch only a couple of years away, Espoo is putting the ‘metro’ in metropolis Taking the metro from Helsinki to Espoo was a distant dream not so long ago, but right now, one can almost picture the launch of the western expansion line. After all, the new metro line will kick off at the end of 2015. A historical landmark was passed on 22 November, 2012, as the Helsinki and Espoo tunnels met at the border between the cities, under the sea. Both Mayor Jukka Mäkelä from Espoo and Mayor Jussi Pajunen from Helsinki were present to witness the momentous occasion. The uniting of the tunnels caps a stellar year which has seen the excavation of the tunnels proceed at rapid pace, reports Matti Kokkinen, Managing Director of Länsimetro Oy. “Currently, we have completed 72 percent of the excavation effort in the tunnels, meaning 20 kilometres.” During the last 12 months, the tunnel teams have covered a distance of 13.5 kilometres, even surpassing the target of one kilometre per month. 26 Nordicum The total length of the metro tunnels of the western expansion line is 28 kilometres – or rather, there are two tunnels with a length of 14 km each. As it stands, the metro project is the biggest single infrastructure undertaking in Finland today – and an extremely high-profile case which is observed with a keen eye by also international parties. Starting the Stations The tunnelling will be concluded in 2013, but Kokkinen says that the focus is already starting to shift to building of the stations. A lot of details go into this demanding work: for example, the stations will be fitted with 56 different electrical systems, from lighting to track power supply and smoke detection systems. In addition to the stations, excavation work will be carried out for fifteen vertical shafts designed for emergency exit, pressure equalisation, ventilation and smoke extraction. Nine work tunnels have been designed for construction and maintenance work. The last eight months of the project have been reserved for the test drives, with the metro line’s external areas, such as escalators, platform areas, station buildings etc. being completed simultaneously. “We want to have the metro stations standing by and ready to go by the autumn of 2015,” says Kokkinen.