Scandria®Alliance: Elina, the city of Turku is an important node in the European transport network, between Stockholm and Helsinki. How is Turku affected by the geopolitical developments that occurred since 24 February 2022, the day Russia attacked Ukraine?
Elina Rantanen: Indeed, the geographical focus of our policy changed to some extent. Collaboration especially with St Petersburg had been an important part of our international policy. This suddenly stopped. However, this does not mean that our priorities regarding transport development in and around the city of Turku changed so much. For the city of Turku, the rail connection to Helsinki (so-called One Hour Train) as well as the ferry connection to Stockholm have been and are of crucial importance. As well as the decarbonisation of urban transport, as our goal is to become carbon-free by 2029.
Scandria®Alliance: Do you see a danger that a stronger focus on military mobility might shift priorities away from the projects, you just mentioned?
Elina Rantanen: Well, so far, I could not assess that a stronger focus to military mobility would have changed investment priorities at national level. Even before Finland’s access to NATO, the military clearly addressed its requirements, so they are reflected in the national transport policy. On the opposite, to make our transport system more resilient provides good arguments, for instance for the high-speed rail connection between Helsinki and Turku, as it increases connectivity between the capital cities of Helsinki and Stockholm. Investments into port infrastructure are necessary as well, to increase capacity and enable new connections, complementing the already existing ones, e.g. to Poland. Ports have an utmost important role in the Finnish security of supply. The restricting factor is and has always been the availability of financial resources, mainly at national level. The risk is not so much associated with the increased priorities of military mobility or resilience of the transport system but the limitations of state budget, especially under a stronger austerity policy focus by the current government in these times of a crisis.