Published 4 Dec, 2018
A new growth corridor in Southeast Finland – future growth hampered by conditions on highway 12?
Lahti Region Economic Development Agency commissioned a study from Taloustutkimus Ltd. which takes a closer look in the urban structure and impacts on the employment of the highway 12 between the cities of Lahti and Kouvola. Highway 12 constitutes another transverse connection in the South of Finland.
According to the study, the Finnish road network has been developed in axes pointing away from the metropolitan Helsinki area. Recent additions to the network include connection from the West coast to the East of Finland (Turku-Helsinki-Hamina-Vaalimaa). The study anticipated the next connection to be developed: Tampere-Lahti-Kouvola-Lappeenranta-Nuijamaa. The arguments supporting the conclusion include the following: Kotka/Hamina port is the most important port (exports) to the Finnish forest industry; despite varying political and economic conditions, importance of tourism and trade with Russia will increase; trade flows from Asia open possibilities to the logistics centre in Kouvola.
Future prospects of Lahti and Kouvola, in connection to highway 12, include new jobs (both cities plan areas for businesses along highway 12), busy commuting between the two cities, existing logistics as well as new areas reserved for logistics centres in conjunction of railroads and highway 12, the only rail and road terminal connected to TEN-T network is in Kouvola, and the construction of KymiRing (the track is expected to attract 140.00 spectators to MotoGP annually and there will be 6-10 other big events in the ring). Traffic to / from KymiRing can increase up to 80 % during major events such as MotoGP.
The new intermodal terminal can increase traffic to China up to fivefold
Kouvola rail and road terminal represents a ten-day connection from Finland to China. In 2018, there are 27 container train departures from Kouvola to Xi’an and 30 from Xi’an to Kouvola. A new intermodal terminal will be ready in 2023. Retail and industry are interested in this route. The most important industries in the vicinity of highway 12 are forestry, construction and maintenance, retail as well as other services. Connections to China can grow fivefold from now which would mean increased container traffic along highway 12.
Traffic on highway 12 is expected to increase significantly even without container traffic from China. These projections call for improvements in infrastructure on the highway. The most urgent need is in section Uusikylä-Tillola. The section contains several stretches of road with 60 km/h speed limit and current conditions on the road are said to harm transportation of the industry. Thus, planned investments (e.g. state funding granted to improve the next phase of the highway) are most welcome. Investments in highway 12 are expected to result in improved logistics and better connection to KymiRing which in turn has high economic value to the region.
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