Helsinki Central railway station

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Helsinki Central railway station

Helsinki Central railway station ( Finnish: Helsingin päärautatieasema, Swedish: Helsingfors centralstation) is a widely recognised landmark in central Helsinki, Finland, and the focal point of public transport in the Greater Helsinki 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, which is the busiest station of the Helsinki Metro. 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 was renamed in a similar manner.

Features
The statues at the front of the station are often parodied"such as supporting the monorail at Linnanmäkitheme park 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"). There are 19 platforms at the station. Numbers 1”“3 are on the east side and serve local trains on the Tikkurila 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, St Petersburg and other points north and east, while 11”“12 serve express trains via the Espoo line to Turku. 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 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. This branch was lifted in 2009 when freight operations were moved to the new Vuosaari Harbour 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 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 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 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 west of the station. There are two regular bus connections between Helsinki Central railway station and Helsinki-Vantaa airport. One of them is a municipal connection operated by HSL. 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. The other bus connection is a private express bus operated by Finnair. It does not accept HSL tickets.

History
Helsinki's first railway station. The metro station can be accessed through the Asematunneli complex 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 heart attack, 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.

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 on 26 January 1969. In 1982, Rautatientori metro station was built under the railway station forecourt as part of the Helsinki Metro 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-metre (540 sq ft) 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.

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
Damaged hotel building after the 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) 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, through central Finland via Lahti and Kuopio. 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 office beyond the end of the platform and those in the Holiday Inn 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.

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