Helsinki Central railway station

Infobox VR station
name = Helsinki



swe = Helsingfors
opened = 1862
pass_day = about 200.000
lines = all trains
inter =
metro
trams
3B, 3T, 4, 4T, 6, 7A, 7B, 10
bus lines
15A, 17, 18, 21V, 23, 24, 40, 42, 43, 55, 55A, 62, 63, 64, 65A, 66, 66A, 67, 67X, 68, 69, 70, 70V, 71, 71V, 72, 75, 77, 194, 194A, 195, 206, 206A, 212, 212A, 212AK, 212K, 213, 213T, 231, 231K, 248, 248K, 270, 270A, 315, 321, 324, 324K, 345, 360, 360K, 361, 362, 362T, 363, 363A, 364, 415, 451, 452, 452K, 452V, 453, 453Z, 474, 474V, 611, 611N, 611Z, 613, 613K, 613N, 615, 615T, 615TK, 620, 623, 623Z, 632, 633, 635, 650, 650T, 651, 652, 730, 730A, 730P, 731, 732, 732B, 734, 738, 738X, 740, 741, 742

address = Asema-aukio, 00100 Helsinki
type = ground station
platforms = 19 (originally 8)
lounges = 1
elevators = 7
escalators = 2

Helsinki Central railway station ( _fi. Helsingin rautatieasema, _sv. Helsingfors järnvägsstation) is a widely recognised landmark in central Helsinki, Finland, and the focal point of public transport in the Greater Helsinki area. 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, which is the busiest station of the Helsinki Metro.

The station is mostly clad in Finnish granite, 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").

The station is used by approximately 200,000 passengers per day, making it Finland's most-visited building.

There are 19 platforms at the station. Numbers 1-4 are on the east side and serve local trains on the Tikkurila route, their tracks stop short of the main station roof. Numbers 5-12 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, St Petersburg and other points north and east, while 11-12 serve express trains via the Espoo line to Turku. Numbers 13-19 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 in the Helsinki suburbs, the first station which all trains stop at, 5 minutes out of Helsinki main station.

Outside the station the loading area for the Finnish car-carrying trains is on the west side. Also on the west side, a branch freight route turns to the west and passes through the inner west side of Helsinki to the West Harbour.

The main maintenance area for the Finnish Railways is located at Pasila, the first station out of Helsinki Central. The old steam locomotive roundhouse facility to the south of Pasila station 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 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 are 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 are bus stations on both sides of the main station building, and the Finnair airport bus leaves from the west side. The Helsinki Metro Rautatientori station is located under the main station building, linked through the Asematunneli 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 pass in front of, or to the right hand side of, the station.

History

The first railway station in Helsinki was built in 1860, as Finland's first railway between Helsinki and Hämeenlinna was opened. The station's plans were drawn by the Swedish architect 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, 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 Kyösti Kallio died at the station on 19 December 1940 of a stroke, as he was going back home to Nivala after having retired as President. Legend says he died in the arms of Marshal Mannerheim.

The clock tower side of the station was damaged in a fire on 14 June 1950 [ [http://www.yle.fi/vierivatkivet/index.php/aiheet/106/ Vierivät kivet 3 February 2004] ] .

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 [Helsingin Sanomat January 15, 1969, p.14.] . The first electric train arrived at the station on January 13, 1969. After testing, regular electric train traffic was started between Helsinki and Kirkkonummi on January 26 [Helsingin Sanomat January 14, 1969 p. 11 and January 27, 1969 p. 3.] .

In 1982, the Helsinki Metro station Rautatientori was built under the railway station. In 2000, a glass roof, which had already been in the original drawings by Eliel Saarinen, was built over the railway station's 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 waiting lounge exclusively for the use of the President of Finland and his/her official guests. The lounge, featuring furniture designed by Eliel Saarinen, has two entrances, a bigger one leading outside to the Rautatientori 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 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.

Bibliography

* "Helsingin rautatieasema / Helsinki railway station" by Hilkka Högström (Helsinki 1996) ISBN 951-53-0533-0

See also

* Railway lines in Finland

References

External links


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