Connecting cultures with connected transportation

The EU-funded Haparanda Tornio Resecentrum project is connecting towns on both the Swedish and Finnish sides of the Torne river via a state-of-the-art travel centre and integrated public transportation system.

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The new transportation hub is expected to have a substantial impact on regional accessibility and growth. © HaparandaTornioResecentrum The new transportation hub is expected to have a substantial impact on regional accessibility and growth. © HaparandaTornioResecentrum

" Developing a well working public transport system in the Norrbotten and Lapland regions has a positive influence on equality because it opens up better possibilities for commuting for those who don't have a car of their own. "

Markus Kannala and Göran Wigren, Project Coordinators

The two cities Tornio in Finland and Haparanda in Sweden are very much connected. The populations of the two towns regularly go back and forth for work, shopping and entertainment. Driving this connection – literally – is an integrated transportation system.

The EU-funded Haparanda Tornio Resecentrum project has rejuvenated the cross-border region’s transportation system. The centrepiece of the project is the construction of a new, state-of-the-art travel centre that serves as a hub for both local and inter-regional bus routes. Furthermore, as many walkways and bike paths connect the travel centre with both cities, the centre also encourages commuting. To better serve the commuting population, the facility features plenty of parking for both bikes and cars.   

Prior to the opening on of the new travel centre, each city had their own bus depot, with little connection to each other. The new centre replaces these old depots with a single, centralised hub. Although it is located on the Swedish side, just 100 metres from the border, organisers stress that the centre represents both cultures and is just as much Finnish as it is Swedish.

Making connections

The main objectives of the project were to mobilise a dispersed labour force and to increase the use of public transportation. As this is a cross-border area, there was also the challenge of connecting and transforming two existing, independent national transportation systems into a seamless and functional international unit.

The new transportation hub is having a substantial impact on regional accessibility and growth. For instance, as the cities become better connected to outside regions, more private and public actors are seeing Tornio and Haparanda as potential locations to invest in or to set up a new business. For those lacking their own vehicles, there are now more options for commuting, thus creating the potential for an increase in employment. However, public transportation not only provides mobility, safety, and economic benefits to people and businesses in the region. It also offers significant environmental advantages that contribute to a better quality of life.

The transport hub also aims to give regional tourism a boost. In fact, the centre hosts a tourism office. As tourists arrive, they can learn about all the cultural and natural opportunities found in both cities. And, thanks to the integrated transport system, they can easily shuttle back and forth to enjoy all that this diverse cross-border area has to offer. 

A model of international cooperation

According to organisers, the Haparanda Tornio Resecentrum project is a testimony to international cooperation – and a model for other cross-border regions to follow. With the simple act of connecting two national public transportation systems, the project has become the driving force behind a more integrated workforce and a better connected cross-border populace.

Total investment and EU funding  

Total investment for the project “Haparanda Tornio Resecentrum” is EUR 3 060 000 with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 1 530 000 through the Interreg IVA North (SE-FI-NO) Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.

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