Länsimetro underground line
The Länsimetro line represents safe and modern public transport
Länsimetro is the largest infrastructure project in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, and much more. The construction of the modern metro line has expedited investments and urban construction in both Helsinki and Espoo. Sweco is involved in the project organisation of the large-scale project.
The first phase of the more than 21-km metro tunnel from the Ruoholahti district of Helsinki to Matinkylä in Espoo was completed in 2017. The second phase will continue until 2023. During peak periods, some 1,300 people from hundreds of companies have been working at the site.
“Sweco is the largest partner involved in the project management and construction arrangements of the Länsimetro project,” explains Jaakko Naamanka of Sweco, who serves as a project manager for the endeavour. “Our responsibilities include procurements, management of planning and worksite supervision.”
According to Managing Director of Länsimetro Ville Saksi, the diverse and extensive expertise of Sweco specialists has been key to project success. “Our cooperation with project management has been seamless and daily.”
New operating methods and management models for the metro project
The Länsimetro line’s modern metro system is so vastly different from that of the original metro network built in the 1980s that the entire construction organisation was faced with many new challenges at the beginning of the first phase. All parameters involved, such as the sufficient widths of the tunnel exits, needed to be analysed with special care.
“As regards the excavation efforts, new kinds of plastic fibre solutions for shotcrete were used, along with methods to protect rock bolts well enough to last 100 years in demanding conditions,” Naamanka says.
All of the information collected in the first phase of the Länsimetro project has been available in the second phase. “We have learned a lot and developed new kinds of operating methods together,” Saksa says. For example, there are no organisational boundaries within the Länsimetro project and everyone works in shared premises. “This improves information flow, among other things.”
One of the project’s challenges was the rate of construction: the daily value of construction production stands at roughly one million euros a day. “Thanks to the new model of situational management, we can refine the massive volume of data efficiently,” Saksi says. Decisions are made quickly but in a high-quality manner and based on facts. “There is no other way of managing a project of this scope.”
Travel safety ensured by more than 50 monitoring systems
The new section of the metro system will be used by roughly 100,000 passengers a day. As such, special attention has been paid to the safety of the metro, and the monitoring systems are first rate.
“The most important thing in terms of fire safety is for metro trains that pass each other in opposite directions to have separate tunnels at a distance of about 20 metres,” Naamanka says. He finds Länsimetro to have more in common with a complex industrial facility than a traditional infrastructure project. “Travel safety is monitored by 52 technical systems.”
Building a metro line in a living urban environment
The new metro line runs through the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, which has made the construction an unusually social process. “We interact with thousands of people every day,” Naamanka says. Nearly 4 million cubic metres of rock has been blasted in the middle of the urban environment. “The end result is 21.2 kilometres of tunnel, 13 stations and thousands of parking spaces for cars and bicycles.
The parties constructing the metro want to generate a profit margin for the approx. BEUR 2.5 investment, and the positive effects of the modern metro line have been extensive. Länsimetro has already expedited construction in Helsinki and Espoo and created new jobs, investments and housing. “In Espoo, the metro line is the new backbone of the entire urban structure,” Saksi says.
The aesthetic designs of the Länsimetro line have already been granted many awards, but ensuring efficient public transport is more important than anything else. “The most important thing for us is to make sure that the metro traffic runs precisely and is well integrated in the travel chains. Many day-to-day services are also provided along the way,” Saksi emphasises.