AEC Finland, a support group to the Arctic Economic Council in Finland, finds that the Arctic railway project, a railway from Rovaniemi to Kirkenes, would bring significant investments; it would improve the security of supply and open sustainable business opportunities.
In July, the Ministry of Transport and Communications requested the Finnish Transport Agency to explore, in cooperation with the Norwegian transport authorities, the possibilities of constructing the Arctic railway and to examine its profitability.
Tero Vauraste, President and CEO of Arctia Ltd and the chair of the Arctic Economic Council, says that the study is very important for the business community in Finland. The railway would connect the transport routes from the Baltic Sea to the Northeast Passage. Japan and China, the big markets in Asia, have expressed a strong interest in the initiative. Norwegian businesses also support the Arctic railway, Tero Vauraste notes.
In May, Finland took over the rotating chairmanship in the intergovernmental forum Arctic Council and the Finnish businesses and industry took the chairmanship in the Arctic Economic Council, an independent body that facilitates Arctic business cooperation. Interconnected Arctic is one of the priorities for both organisations. According to Tero Vauraste, this gives the Arctic railway initiative a good chance of success.
The Arctic railway plans have also sparked criticism. Tero Vauraste points out that the any project in the Polar Regions must be carried out in a responsible and sustainable way. The planning must take into account the vulnerable environment and include the local communities.