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All aboard: Tickets go on sale for Finland-Estonia train tunnel, yet to be built

Reuters  |  HELSINKI 

(Reuters) - Despite no and no government or backing, passengers can now buy tickets for trips through what would be the world's longest undersea rail link, between and the Estonian capital

The 15-20 billion euro project, led by Peter Vesterbacka, a former at Rovio, and his FinEst Bay Area company, has raised 100 million euros ($114 million) from Dubai-based construction company ARJ Holding, its first external funding commitment.

Tens of thousands of Estonians work in the area, making the weekly commute by sea, while is a popular tourist destination for Finns. A would cut the to around 20 minutes from the 2-hour ride on a fast ferry now.

"To have the first external funding is a significant step for the whole project...The Helsinki-area will in the future be one of the fastest-growing metropoles in Europe," told a conference on Monday, adding that he expected further funding to come from and

and have for years considered linking their capitals, which are divided by the

A feasibility study commissioned by the two governments and published last year said the planned 100-km (60-mile) could open in 2040 but said the tunnel would be built by 2024.

"That is the plan and there is no reason to believe otherwise," he said.

An charging 50 euros per ride opened on Monday, promising that the first trains would run on Dec 24th, 2024.

Vesterbacka's ambitious plan also includes building a new island for 50,000 inhabitants in the where the trains would stop on their way between the two capitals.

said talks with Helsinki, Tallinn and the two national governments were positive. The governments have previously said they were open to Vesterbacka's plans and allowing private investors to fund the project, but noted that there were still several questions to be answered.

Finland and want the tunnel to form part of the EU's core network of routes deemed vital for European and global transport flows.

($1 = 0.8792 euros)

(Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl and Tarmo Virki; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, December 03 2018. 15:37 IST