Finnish and Norwegian representatives working on the railway project between Rovaniemi, Finland and Kirkenes, Norway met in Saariselkä, Finland during the last days of October. Now Finnmark County and Sør-Varanger Development are to bring the visions on.
- We informed each other about status on various projects and exchanged useful information for the road ahead for the railway project. In addition, we discussed the foundation for the work on visions that we are working on from our side, Kenneth Stålsett, Managing Director of Sør-Varanger Development says in a press statement.
He says that the work that is now underway is vital for increasing the interest in and understanding of what an Arctic railway between Kirkenes, Norway and Rovaniemi, Finland may actually lead to.
- The railway line in and of itself is just a piece of a larger puzzle, one in which the flow of goods and logistics from Asia, America and Europe can be connected via the Northern Sea Route, Stålsett says.
Secure the right initiatives
Right now, an extensive impact assessment of the railway project is conducted. It is important for Sør-Varanger Development to make sure they also bring out the positive ramifications of such an initiative.
- That is why we have to be able to tell a good story based on estimates and facts. Up until today there have been many ideas and discussions, however, as per today we do not have solid figures as a foundation for what we do. I hope that all who have an interest in the project will take ownership of the work we are doing now, and that we together can provide a clearer story of what such a railway line would contribute to, Stålsett says.
There are many stakeholders in such a project. One of them, Finnmark County, has recently decided to support the project with an allocation and is, of course, excited about the outcome.
- This proves that we follow up on our decisions with allocation of resources. A railway between Rovaniemi and Kirkenes will bring tremendous opportunities, and that is why it is important to create a solid vision document built on data and various scenarios, Bjørn Johansen from Finnmark County Parliament says.
He can hardly wait to see the result.
- From the County’s side, we monitor the process closely through good cooperation with Sør-Varanger Development, Johansen says.
Mayor Rune Rafaelsen of Sør-Varanger municipality also believes that the work on a vision is vital, and he has missed a clear vision document.
- It is important to me that we do a proper job with this railway project, and thus I am most pleased that we now will have a foundation built on data and future thinking that we can keep working on, Rafaelsen says.
He argues that there is a high degree of international attention to this railway and that he prioritizes this work.
- That allows us to specify the project further, which allow us to communicate our work easier and make sure that Rovaniemi – Kirkenes is the only priority. I am very happy that Finnmark County and Sør-Varanger Development work closely together to realize this, the mayor says.