The Arctic Ocean railway line is not commercially viable, and it does not present any further measures for promoting it, Finland’s Ministry of Transport announced after a Finnish-Norwegian working group completed the report on the project. The annual transport volume would have to be around 2.5 million tonnes to cover the maintenance costs each year, but such volumes cannot be regarded realistic without any significant changes in business in the area or in the costs of different transport modes. In addition, the project can’t be implementing taking into account the tourism, as the construction of the railway would not be financed through income from tourism.
The report also indicated that full utilisation of the Arctic railway as part of a travel chain to Central Europe would, above all, call for an increase in the capacity of the main rail line in Finland, particularly in its busiest section between Helsinki and Tampere.
The planning and permit process would have multiple phases in Finland and Norway and the estimated planning and construction of the railway would take at least 15 years.
The Arctic Ocean railway report drew up five alternative routes
The group assessed the preconditions for the construction of the Arctic railway, focusing on the possible finance models, planning and permit procedures and environmental issue. The investment costs of the alternative routes examined in the report vary greatly, from EUR 22–101 million to EUR 2 – 5 billion, on Finnish side. The Kolari-Tromsø route would require the highest investment, with over EUR 2 billion in Finland, and EUR 5 billion in Norway.
No decision on the construction of the railway or the choice of routing has been made either in Finland or in Norway. In order to be able to launch the planning, a political decision on the implementation of the project would have to be made in both countries.