ConnectBaltica 4th Annual Convention 2014

This year’s ConnectBaltica Convention took place the 4th time in the Mektor Building of Tallinn University of Technology. More than forty participants from Estonia and abroad have been discussing the project of the Helsinki-Tallinn tunnel, mobility pricing as well as vehicle-to-vehicle communication. Especially the presentations of Joakim Helenius of Trigon Capital and Kaarel Kose of Harju County showed how a fixed link between Helsinki and Tallinn could enable prosperity of the “Talsinki Region” and a positive development. Special gusset Mr. Tuomo Suvanto of the Finish Ministry of Transport and Communication showed us how “intensive” and polarizing the discussion about possible “pay-as-you-drive” scheme is performed within Finish society.

Audience of CB Convention 2014
Joakim Heleneius, Trigon Capital

The Audience has been fascinated by Joakim Helenius who strongly promotes a fixed link between Helsinki and Tallinn enabling prosperity and growth of the “Two-city-Region”. Once a tunnel has been build connecting both cities, people can daily commute and have direct access to international flights via Helsinki airport. Travel Time between two cities could be reduced to approximately 30 Minutes. Nevertheless this project shall not only be analyzed by immediate Return-On-Invest perspective, but rather by the strategic impact for the whole region. One good example such approach of a fixed link is also the fixed link between Copenhagen and Malmö, which resulted in an increase of population on the Malmö side of 34% since the lows in the 1980ies. In case of realization of the Tunnel Project labor market would integrate without any need for people to change their living arrangements. Moreover foreign attraction would improve.

Kaarel Kose , Harju County

Kaarel Kose from Harju County presented us a feasibility study which shows that the joint region would have a population of 2.1 million and it is expected that traffic will increase. Thus it has been forecasted that passenger traffic in 2022 will increase by 50% and cargo traffic even by 60%. The idea of the Helsinki-Tallinn tunnel originates from 1992 and was proposed at the Nordic Geotechnical Meeting (NGM92) in Aalborg. Harju County has already reserved land in Viimsi Municipality for entrance of the tunnel on Estonian side.

Nordic Logistic Corridor

Beside the fact that the tunnel would be rather essential to build the connection between Central Europe and North Sea in connection with the Rail Baltica Project, which is strongly promoted by EU, the fixed link will have many positive effects on the Economy of both Regions. According to the aforesaid feasibility study effects of the fixed link will be as follows:

  • Strengthening the competitiveness of the common market
  • Creating CO2 efficiency of rail transport
  • Connecting the periphery regions with the central regions
  • Removing bottlenecks
  • Improving the quality of infrastructure and the transport operation
  • Establishing a main transport corridor between Continental Europe and Scandinavia

Partners in the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) are:

  • Harju County Government (EE)
  • City of Helsinki (FI)
  • Tallinn City Office (EE)
  • Fonden Femern Belt Development (DK)

The budget for the performed pre-feasibility study of the TALSINKIFIX project has been EUR 100,000. The main questions of the study have been:

  • Is it economically and socially wise to continue the work on the feasibility study?
  • Under which circumstances fixed link would be viable?
  • How to take the project (idea) further?

Referring to these questions the final objective of the study is to give a complete and substantiated picture for the authorities of Estonia, Finland and the EU if the project seems viable enough to justify a full scale feasibility study and to propose a concrete coherent plan on how to complete the full-scale study.

Mr. Tuomo Suvanto, Finish Ministry of Transport and Communication

Beside the fixed link project this year’s annual convention also dealt with other ITS topics such as pay-as-you-dive pricing schemes. Mr. Tuomo Suvanto of Finish ministry of Transport and communication has presented how this idea is discussed in Finland. Thus additional pricing for road usage is not too much liked by Finish population. Nevertheless from Finish perspective also the current tax system has to be considered when evaluating pay-as-you-drive.

Clemens Schober

Moreover Clemens Schober of Kapsch TrafficCom AG showed us what mobility pricing is and how it works. It is expected that by 2050 more than 70% of world population will live in Urban Areas/Cities which will lead to a higher demand or urban mobility. Moreover increased fuel efficiency and introduction of electric vehicles will lead to an erosion of fuel tax, which is in many countries one of the main revenue sources for financing of road infrastructure. Last but not least congestion increases year by year including vehicle emissions. Now therefore mobility pricing will be a good concept to handle those topics mentioned before. Thus mobility pricing is the application of market based full-cost pricing mechanisms (Supply & Demand) on all modes of traffic and it would enable a change from tax based to user-pays principle. Moreover mobility pricing will enable totally new services and applications for the consumer markets of transport services. To summarize mobility pricing will enable us to handle the issues mentioned above and to have working infrastructure in place.

In additional to mobility pricing topic we have had a great presentation of Business Development Manager Aare Kilp of Now Innovation, an Estonian ITS specialist providing BOS for various ITS applications, such as Parking. Company already has installations in Netherlands, the US and Russia. It also shows that ITS can enable export of services from Estonia to abroad.

Another ITS topic which will be relevant for road transport has been presented by Christoph Demuth, Managing director of CONNECTBALTICA and Stratum Traffic Engineering GmbH in Vienna. Vehicle to vehicle communication is one of the technologies which is developed amongst others by car producers to enable smart traffic on roads. These new technologies will increase road safety and the efficient use of existing road infrastructure.

Margus Nigol and Christoph Demuth, Management Board of ConnectBaltica.

Thanks to the support of Andres Peets, Margus Nigol and Christoph Demuth we have had a great event in Tallinn and we are looking forward for future events and intensive debate about Transport Economics and Intelligent Transport Systems by stakeholders of the region.

Andress Peets moderating the convention.

Andres Peets has moderated this year’s convention and is also responsible for Public Relations within CONNECTBALTICA.