Helsinki Central railway station
Overview
 
Helsinki Central railway station is a widely recognised landmark in central Helsinki
Helsinki
Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. The population of the city of Helsinki is , making it by far the most populous municipality in Finland. Helsinki is...

, Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

, and the focal point of public transport
Public transport
Public transport is a shared passenger transportation service which is available for use by the general public, as distinct from modes such as taxicab, car pooling or hired buses which are not shared by strangers without private arrangement.Public transport modes include buses, trolleybuses, trams...

 in the Greater Helsinki
Greater Helsinki
Greater Helsinki and the smaller Helsinki Metropolitan Area or Capital Region refer to two regions of different size surrounding Helsinki, the capital of Finland...

 area. The station is used by approximately 200,000 passengers per day, making it Finland's most-visited building. It serves as the point of origin for all trains in the local VR commuter rail network, as well as for a large proportion of long-distance trains in Finland.
Encyclopedia
Helsinki Central railway station is a widely recognised landmark in central Helsinki
Helsinki
Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. The population of the city of Helsinki is , making it by far the most populous municipality in Finland. Helsinki is...

, Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

, and the focal point of public transport
Public transport
Public transport is a shared passenger transportation service which is available for use by the general public, as distinct from modes such as taxicab, car pooling or hired buses which are not shared by strangers without private arrangement.Public transport modes include buses, trolleybuses, trams...

 in the Greater Helsinki
Greater Helsinki
Greater Helsinki and the smaller Helsinki Metropolitan Area or Capital Region refer to two regions of different size surrounding Helsinki, the capital of Finland...

 area. The station is used by approximately 200,000 passengers per day, making it Finland's most-visited building. It serves as the point of origin for all trains in the local VR commuter rail network, as well as for a large proportion of long-distance trains in Finland. The station also hosts the Rautatientori metro station
Rautatientori metro station
Rautatientori metro station or Central railway station metro station is a station on the Helsinki Metro in Finland. The entrance is located in the Asematunneli main hall, which has an exit to the Helsinki Central Railway Station. It is the only Helsinki Metro station whose name is announced also...

, which is the busiest station of the Helsinki Metro
Helsinki Metro
The Helsinki Metro , is the metro system in Helsinki, Finland. It is the World's most northern metro system, and currently the only one in Finland. The system was opened to the general public on 2 August 1982 after 27 years of planning...

.

On 7 June 2010, the Helsinki Central railway station was officially renamed Helsingin päärautatieasema-Helsingfors centralstation (Helsinki main railway station, or Helsinki central railway station) in Finnish and Swedish, replacing the previous official name Helsingin rautatieasema-Helsingfors järnvägsstation (Helsinki railway station). The Finnish transport bureau use "Helsinki C" as a shorthand, and there were erroneous news reports that this shorthand would also be taken into official use. The Turku Central railway station
Turku Central railway station
The Turku Central railway station is a railway station in the VII District of Turku, Finland. It has VR services to Helsinki and towards Joensuu...

 was renamed in a similar manner.

Features

The station is mostly clad in Finnish granite
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

, and its distinguishing features are its clock tower and the two pairs of statues holding the spherical lamps, lit at night-time, on either side of the main entrance. Animated characters based on the statues have recently been featured in some major advertising campaigns by Finland's government-owned railway operator VR, to the extent of releasing rap singles allegedly sung by Kivimiehet ("The stone men").

There are 19 platforms at the station. Numbers 1–3 are on the east side and serve local trains on the Tikkurila
Tikkurila
Tikkurila is a district of the municipality of Vantaa, Finland. Located in the eastern half of the Helsinki conurbation, some north of the capital's downtown district, it is the administrative and commercial hub of Vantaa, although Myyrmäki is a rival shopping centre within the municipality and...

 route, their tracks stop short of the main station roof. Numbers 4–11 in the centre of the station are the main platforms for longer-distance trains which stretch down to terminate in front of the main station building, commonly 5–10 serve trains running via Tikkurila to Tampere
Tampere
Tampere is a city in southern Finland. It is the most populous inland city in any of the Nordic countries. The city has a population of , growing to approximately 300,000 people in the conurbation and over 340,000 in the metropolitan area. Tampere is the third most-populous municipality in...

, St Petersburg and other points north and east, while 11–12 serve express trains via the Espoo
Espoo
Espoo is the second largest city and municipality in Finland. The population of the city of Espoo is . It is part of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area along with the cities of Helsinki, Vantaa, and Kauniainen. Espoo shares its eastern border with Helsinki and Vantaa, while enclosing Kauniainen....

 line to Turku
Turku
Turku is a city situated on the southwest coast of Finland at the mouth of the Aura River. It is located in the region of Finland Proper. It is believed that Turku came into existence during the end of the 13th century which makes it the oldest city in Finland...

. Numbers 12–19 are on the west side and serve local trains on the Espoo and Vantaankoski routes, again their tracks stop short of the main station roof. The tracks funnel into separate express and local tracks for both the Espoo and the Tikkurila routes with the express tracks in the middle and the local tracks on the outside, aligning with their respective platforms. This gives 8 principal tracks but there is a 9th, additional express track for the Tikkurila route out through Pasila
Pasila
is a suburb in Helsinki, Finland. It is a central-northern neighbourhood, bordering Alppila to the south, Central Park to the west and Vallila to the east....

 in the Helsinki suburbs, the first station at which all trains stop, 5 minutes out of Helsinki main station.

Outside the station the loading area for the car-carrying trains is on the west side. Also on the west side, a branch freight route used to turn to the west and passed through the inner west side of Helsinki to the West Harbour
Länsisatama
West Harbour is a cargo and container harbour in the Jätkäsaari district of Helsinki, Finland, in the southwestern part of the Helsinginniemi peninsula. The Länsisatama harbour area also includes the Munkkisaaren laituri pier on the west side of Munkkisaari, used by cruiseliners.The Länsisatama...

. This branch was lifted in 2009 when freight operations were moved to the new Vuosaari Harbour
Vuosaari Harbour
Vuosaari Harbour is a seaport facility in Helsinki, Finland, opened in November 2008....

 from old harbours. Until the 1990s there was a large freight railyard in the area between the parliament house and the passenger station.

The main maintenance area for the Finnish Railways is located at Pasila, the first station out of Helsinki Central. The old steam locomotive
Steam locomotive
A steam locomotive is a railway locomotive that produces its power through a steam engine. These locomotives are fueled by burning some combustible material, usually coal, wood or oil, to produce steam in a boiler, which drives the steam engine...

 roundhouse facility to the south of Pasila station
Pasila railway station
Pasila railway station is a railway station in Helsinki, Finland, approximately north of Helsinki Central railway station. It is the second busiest railway station in Finland, after Helsinki Central, and takes up a large part of the district of Pasila...

 still stands and is used for sundry functions. The main area is now to the north of Pasila station, in the fork between the Espoo and the Tikkurila lines.

Steam locomotives were replaced by diesel
Diesel locomotive
A diesel locomotive is a type of railroad locomotive in which the prime mover is a diesel engine, a reciprocating engine operating on the Diesel cycle as invented by Dr. Rudolf Diesel...

 in the 1950s on Finnish railways, and in turn the first electric trains were introduced in 1969–70 on the Helsinki local lines; the trains introduced at that time are still in substantial use. Main line trains were then gradually changed over as the electric network was extended over the bulk of the Finnish rail system, including all trains which serve Helsinki.

Helsinki station serves as a central hub for Finnish transport. There is a bus station on both sides of the main station building. The Helsinki Metro
Helsinki Metro
The Helsinki Metro , is the metro system in Helsinki, Finland. It is the World's most northern metro system, and currently the only one in Finland. The system was opened to the general public on 2 August 1982 after 27 years of planning...

 Rautatientori station
Rautatientori metro station
Rautatientori metro station or Central railway station metro station is a station on the Helsinki Metro in Finland. The entrance is located in the Asematunneli main hall, which has an exit to the Helsinki Central Railway Station. It is the only Helsinki Metro station whose name is announced also...

 is located under the main station building, linked through the Asematunneli
Asematunneli
Asematunneli is an underground shopping center connecting the Helsinki Central railway station and City-Center in downtown Helsinki, Finland. The area also has a ticket sales area for the Rautatientori metro station and connections to the nearby Forum shopping mall and Stockmann and Sokos...

 pedestrian underpass and underground shopping centre complex, which has entrances in the main hall of the station and at various points in the surrounding city centre streets. The majority of Helsinki's tram routes
Helsinki tram
The Helsinki tram network forms part of the Helsinki public transport system organised by Helsinki Regional Transport Authority and operated by Helsinki City Transport in the Finnish capital city of Helsinki. The trams are the main means of transport in the city centre. 56.6 million trips were made...

 pass in front of or to the west of the station.

There are two regular bus
Bus
A bus is a road vehicle designed to carry passengers. Buses can have a capacity as high as 300 passengers. The most common type of bus is the single-decker bus, with larger loads carried by double-decker buses and articulated buses, and smaller loads carried by midibuses and minibuses; coaches are...

 connections between Helsinki Central railway station and Helsinki-Vantaa airport
Helsinki-Vantaa Airport
Helsinki Airport or Helsinki-Vantaa Airport is the main international airport of the Helsinki metropolitan region and the whole of Finland. It is located in Vantaa, Finland, about west of Tikkurila, the centre of Vantaa, and north of Helsinki city centre...

. One of them is a municipal connection operated by HSL
Helsinki Metropolitan Area Council
The Helsinki Metropolitan Area Council was a co-operation agency operating in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, now replaced by HSL and HSY. The organisation had a few responsibilities, most notably regional public transport and waste management. It was subordinated to the city councils of the four...

. As an exception for HSL bus lines, the line can only be used for inter-city transport – once a passenger boards the bus they may only disembark after crossing the border to Vantaa
Vantaa
Vantaa is a city and municipality in Finland. Helsinki, Vantaa, Espoo and Kauniainen make up the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.Vantaa, with its population of , is the fourth most populated city of Finland. The biggest airport in Finland, the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, is located there...

. The other bus connection is a private express bus operated by Finnair
Finnair
Finnair Plc is the flag carrier and largest airline of Finland, with its headquarters on the grounds of Helsinki Airport in Vantaa, Finland, and its main hub at Helsinki Airport. Finnair and its subsidiaries dominate both the domestic and international air travel markets in Finland. The largest...

. It does not accept HSL tickets.

History

The first railway station in Helsinki was built in 1860, as Finland's first railway between Helsinki and Hämeenlinna
Hämeenlinna
Hämeenlinna is a city and municipality of about inhabitants in the heart of the historical province of Häme in the south of Finland and is the birthplace of composer Jean Sibelius. Today, it belongs to the region of Tavastia Proper, and until 2010 it was the residence city for the Governor of the...

 was opened. The station's plans were drawn by the Swedish
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 architect
Architect
An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the...

 Carl Albert Edelfelt. However, as the popularity of railways grew, the station turned out to be too small, and a contest was organised in 1904 with the intention of producing plans for a new station. The contest received 21 entries, and was won by Eliel Saarinen
Eliel Saarinen
Gottlieb Eliel Saarinen was a Finnish architect who became famous for his art nouveau buildings in the early years of the 20th century....

, with a pure national romanticist design, which sparked off a vigorous debate about the architecture of major public buildings, with demands for a modern, rational style. Saarinen himself abandoned romanticism altogether and re-designed the station completely. The new design was finished in 1909 and the station was opened in 1919.

President of Finland
President of Finland
The President of the Republic of Finland is the nation's head of state. Under the Finnish constitution, executive power is vested in the President and the government, with the President possessing extensive powers. The President is elected directly by the people of Finland for a term of six years....

 Kyösti Kallio
Kyösti Kallio
Kyösti Kallio was the fourth President of Finland . He was a prominent leader of the Agrarian League, and served as Prime Minister four times and Speaker of the Parliament six times.-Early life:...

 died at the station on 19 December 1940 of a heart attack, as he was going back home to Nivala
Nivala
Nivala is a town and municipality of Finland.It is located in the province of Oulu and is part of the Northern Ostrobothnia region. The town has a population of and covers an area of ofwhich is water...

 after having retired as President. Legend says he died in the arms of Marshal Mannerheim
Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim
Baron Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim was the military leader of the Whites in the Finnish Civil War, Commander-in-Chief of Finland's Defence Forces during World War II, Marshal of Finland, and a Finnish statesman. He was Regent of Finland and the sixth President of Finland...

.

The clock tower side of the station was damaged in a fire on 14 June 1950.

Renovation

The railway station has been renovated occasionally. In the 1960s the underground Asematunneli tunnel was built. The first surveillance cameras in the station hall were installed in the spring of 1968. The first electric train arrived at the station on 13 January 1969. After testing, regular electric train traffic was started between Helsinki and Kirkkonummi railway station
Kirkkonummi railway station
Kirkkonummi railway station is a railway station in the municipality of Kirkkonummi, Finland, between Siuntio railway station and Tolsa railway station....

 on 26 January 1969.

In 1982, Rautatientori metro station
Rautatientori metro station
Rautatientori metro station or Central railway station metro station is a station on the Helsinki Metro in Finland. The entrance is located in the Asematunneli main hall, which has an exit to the Helsinki Central Railway Station. It is the only Helsinki Metro station whose name is announced also...

 was built under the railway station forecourt as part of the Helsinki Metro
Helsinki Metro
The Helsinki Metro , is the metro system in Helsinki, Finland. It is the World's most northern metro system, and currently the only one in Finland. The system was opened to the general public on 2 August 1982 after 27 years of planning...

 construction work. In 2000, a glass roof, which had already been in the original drawings by Eliel Saarinen, was built over the railway station's central platforms, although to a new design. In 2003, the shopping wing Kauppakuja was opened along with a hotel.

Presidential lounge

One of the station's less known features is a private 50 square metres (538.2 sq ft) waiting lounge exclusively for the use of the President of Finland
President of Finland
The President of the Republic of Finland is the nation's head of state. Under the Finnish constitution, executive power is vested in the President and the government, with the President possessing extensive powers. The President is elected directly by the people of Finland for a term of six years....

 and his/her official guests. The lounge, featuring furniture
Furniture
Furniture is the mass noun for the movable objects intended to support various human activities such as seating and sleeping in beds, to hold objects at a convenient height for work using horizontal surfaces above the ground, or to store things...

 designed by Eliel Saarinen, has two entrances, a bigger one leading outside to the Rautatientori
Rautatientori
Rautatientori is an open square in central Helsinki, immediately to the east of the Helsinki Central railway station. The square mostly serves as Helsinki's secondary bus station...

 square and a smaller one leading to the main station hall. The lounge was first completed in 1911 and was originally intended for the private use of the Emperor of Russia, but the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 delayed its official inauguration to 1919, at which point it had been converted into a temporary military hospital, and was afterwards given to the use of the Finnish President. According to Kari Pekka Rosenholm, the former station manager, the lounge is the only one of its kind in the entire world.

Incidents

Over the years, there have been a few incidents at the station. However, no lives have been lost due to them:
  • 28 August 1926: a passenger train (pulled by Hv2 674) crashed into the passenger hall. 18 were injured.
  • 23 October 1944: a passenger train from Turku crashed through a buffer stop. The locomotive ended in the outer hall of the station.
  • 5 October 1990: a runaway freight train crashed into the building. Two wagons ended in the passenger hall and many others ended on the platforms.

4 January 2010 accident

On 4 January 2010, four empty passenger carriages overran the buffers of platform 13. The carriages had broken free of their train during a shunting manoeuvre and ran under gravity down the gentle hill from Linnunlaulu (halfway between Helsinki Central and Pasila railway station
Pasila railway station
Pasila railway station is a railway station in Helsinki, Finland, approximately north of Helsinki Central railway station. It is the second busiest railway station in Finland, after Helsinki Central, and takes up a large part of the district of Pasila...

) before being diverting into an empty platform and impacting the buffers at 20–30 kilometres per hour.

The eight-carriage train arriving from the depot had been due to form the 08:12 departure running from Helsinki to Kajaani
Kajaani
Kajaani is a town and municipality in Finland.It is the capital of the Kainuu region. It is located southeast of Oulujärvi , which drains to the Gulf of Bothnia along the Oulujoki . There are inhabitants and city surface area is of which is water. The population density is . The town is...

, through central Finland via Lahti and Kuopio
Kuopio
Kuopio is a city and a municipality located in the region of Northern Savonia, Finland. A population of makes it the ninth biggest city in the country. The city has a total area of , of which is water and half forest...

. The formation which broke away consisted of three double-decker "Intercity 2" carriages, followed by a single-decker restaurant car.
The runaway carriages were quickly detected and deliberately routed in one of the shorter commuter platforms (fitted with large concrete barriers beyond the buffers) in order to minimise damage to the main station area. Passengers aboard an adjacent commuter train waiting to depart were ordered to leave their train and run away from the area and announcements were made over the station's loudspeaker system. The first carriage of the four runaway cars mounted the concrete barrier. Members of the public in an Ernst & Young
Ernst & Young
Ernst & Young is one of the largest professional services networks in the world and one of the "Big Four" accountancy firms, along with Deloitte, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers ....

 office beyond the end of the platform and those in the Holiday Inn
Holiday Inn
Holiday Inn is a brand of hotels, formally a economy motel chain, forming part of the British InterContinental Hotels Group . It is one of the world's largest hotel chains with 238,440 bedrooms and 1,301 hotels globally. There are currently 5 hotels in the pipeline...

 hotel above the platforms all escaped without injury. The first carriage then struck the hotel's conference room, causing extensive damage to the room. The conductor aboard the train as it came in sustained light injuries to their arm, with nobody else injured.

Services had resumed—at a reduced level by the afternoon—following repairs to damage to the overhead line. The Finnish Accident Investigation Board announced that they would proceed with an investigation into why the brakes had not automatically applied. A restaurant car and one of the passenger carriages were towed back to the depot by a diesel locomotive during the course of the night, after which the front carriage was partially dragged back out of the hotel building. The building that had taken the force of the crash was deemed to be structurally sound.

On 18 January 2010 the Finnish Accident Investigation Board made available their interim report which concluded that the incident had been caused by a combination of bad weather and then human error. Initially, snow and ice had caused the front carriages to detach from the rest of the train; followed by the guard having released the brakes manually—not realizing that the two halves of the train were no longer coupled.

External links


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