Cross-border passenger trains between Finland and Sweden have moved a step closer.
Last Thursday, the first train for 29 years pulled into a refurbished station at the Swedish border town of Haparanda.
That follows the opening of a line from Haparanda and Luleå further inland.
On the Finnish side, meanwhile, authorities financed a project to electrify a 20-kilometre stretch of track near Laurila, after receiving a €1.6 million grant from the European Union.
Despite sharing a 545-kilometre border, the two Scandinavian neighbours lack a working connection between their national rail services.
“The start of passenger traffic to Haparanda is strategically important for achieving cross-border traffic between Sweden and Finland,” said Nils-Olof Lindfors, deputy chairman of the board at RKM Norrbotten.
It is hoped a cross-border passenger train between the two countries would boost long-distance travel from the south.
For instance, Lapland is hoping it might one day open up the possibility of tourists arriving by train from central Europe.
“This creates great opportunities both for Sweden and Finland,” said Nina Forsell, executive manager of the Finnish Lapland Tourist Board.
“Usually we have a lot of international guests, who arrive by plane, but now this gives them a new opportunity.
“Many customers come to Lapland for nature and the activities … so taking a slow train across the border may be an alternative.”
Click on the video player above to see the full interview with Forsell.