Service level of arterial roads and railways defined by a new decree

Ministry of Transport and Communications
Publication date 21.11.2018 8.39
Press release

The Ministry of Transport and Communications issued a Decree on the arterial roads and railways and their service level on 21 November 2018. The Decree will enter into force on 1 January 2019. The decision on the roads and railways selected as the arterial traffic routes was made on the basis of the current and projected traffic volumes. 

The volumes will be monitored and the Decree updated accordingly. In addition to the traffic volumes, the regional accessibility and international connections were taken into account.

"We have now completed an extensive work process. During the preparations, we considered the many valuable comments received in the process. Several roads and lines were included in the decree after the consultations," Minister of Transport and Communications Anne Berner says.

 "The arterial routes serve especially long-distance commuter traffic as well as goods transport in business and industry. In Finland, where distances are long, maintenance of these routes is particularly important for both passenger and goods transport," she continues.

Five facts about the Decree:

1. The arterial routes connect the biggest national and international centres and nodes. These main routes of the state roads and railways reach all the regional centres. The routes are marked in a map attached to this press release.
2. In terms of highways, those with a traffic volume of more than 6,000 passenger cars and more than 600 heavy vehicles per day were categorised as arterial routes.
3. On the railways, the volume of arterial routes is more than 1.5 million passengers per year or their projected volume is at least one million trips per year. On the arterial goods transport routes, the volume is at least two (2) million tonnes a year.
4. The arterial routes have the highest speed limits. On highways, the speed limit is primarily at least 80 km/h and on motorways mainly 120 km/h. In passenger railway transport, the main speed is 120 km/h and in goods transport 80 km/h.
5. On the arterial routes, high-level year-round maintenance is prioritised. 

How were the comments considered?

The work process now completed has a long history: The first proposals on the trunk network were discussed in 2004. The latest preparations at the Ministry of Transport and Communications were started in December 2017.  They were linked with the reforms of the Highways Act and the Railways Act. A new aspect in the preparations was that also the service level of the trips and transportations on the routes was defined in the Decree.
The draft Decree was circulated for comments in August-September 2018. The number of comments received was high and they were considered in the further preparations. After the request for comments, a public consultation was arranged with an opportunity to orally express views on the proposal. These views were also taken into account in the preparations.
After the request for comments and the consultation, the following additions were made to the list of the arterial routes: 
Highways: Highway connections to the ports of Vuosaari, HaminaKotka and Turku; highway 21; highway 9 up to the border station of Niirala; the remaining parts of highway 8; and highway 6 between Joensuu and Kajaani.
Railways: Rail connection to the port of Kokkola; rail connection to the port of Vuosaari; railway to Helsinki-Vantaa airport (Ring Rail Line); railway between the port of Turku and Toijala (goods transport profile); the traffic profile of the rail section Helsinki-Turku into passenger transport rail; railway from Kemi to Tornio border; railway connection to Tahkoluoto in Pori; railway connection to Rautaruukki in Raahe; and the traffic profiles of the rail sections Kouvola-Kuopio and Lappeenranta-Joensuu into goods and passenger transport rails.
At the time the proposal was circulated for comments, it was called a trunk network decree. It was stated in the comments that the name of the Decree was misleading so it was changed to better describe the aims: Decree on the arterial routes and their service levels.
Many regions have been concerned that routes in their area would not be included in the Decree and would therefore not receive investments. There is no reason for concern, because investment decisions are not made by the Decree. Decisions on the investments and development of the transport infrastructure network will be made in a national 12-year transport system plan, not in this Decree. The plan will be completed in the next government term.   Provisions on the level of maintenance in the highway network will be laid down in the reformed Highways Act.

What next?

The Decree will enter into force on 1 January 2019.
Director General Sabina Lindström, tel. Tel. +358 40 527 6103, [email protected], @LindstromSabina