€15bn Chinese funding deal for Helsinki-Tallinn tunnel

Peter Vesterbacka, co-founder of FinEst Bay Area Development, attends a news conference on the Helsinki-Tallinn undersea railway tunnel in Helsinki, Finland December 3, 2018. The project is set to receive some 15 billion euros from a firm helping to advance China’s Belt and Road initiative. (Vesa Moilanen/Lehtikuva/via Reuters)
A private firm looking to construct a tunnel linking Tallinn and Helsinki is set to receive some 15 billion euros from a firm helping to advance China’s Belt and Road initiative.

The money will be provided by Touchstone Capital Partners as and when needed. Roughly one third of the money is an equity investment, with the remaining two thirds to be a loan.

FinEstBay, the company behind the project, says the project will run from Helsinki Airport to Tallinn airport and include ‘a couple of stations in between’.

“It’s a relief now we know how our funding plan will look,” said Peter Vesterbacka of FinEstBay. “We’re going full steam ahead and expect trains to be running by Christmas Eve 2024.”

That challenging timetable has raised eyebrows, with several planning stages including environmental impact studies still to be completed.

To remain in Finnish hands

Former Angry Bird Vesterbacka says that FinEstBay will remain majority Finnish-owned.

“At the moment there is a global discussion in Finland and elsewhere, there is a desire to not have too much Chinese money,” said Vesterbacka.

FinEstBay had early agreed some 100 million euros of funding from ARJ Holdings.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canadian government pledges $400 million for northern transport, CBC News

Finland: Finland takes another step towards building Arctic rail link, The Independent Barents Observer

Norway: Railway linking Barents Sea coast to Arctic Finland not commercially viable, report says, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Investors working to build coal terminal in Murmansk, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Growing number of Swedes choose train travel over flying to reduce pollution, Radio Sweden

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