Commuter traffic

So, I didn’t really plan on writing anything outside of writing, reading and my personal projects on this blog, but I got a (bit) pissed about this particular matter, so I just decided to go along with it.

The ministry of traffic and transport here in Finland decided to end commuter train traffic from the little town of Inkoo to Helsinki earlier this year. There is an existing railroad track that goes through the town, and traffic will continue along the route, they just won’t stop at that station any more after the decision goes through. And, to be more precise, the decision’s pretty much final.

Also, this month an international decision to combat carbon emissions and global warming was made in Paris. A whole fifth of Finland’s carbon dioxide emissions comes cfrom transport and traffic and about a half of that from private transportation – cars. This is not that much when you consider the fact that in reality Finland is a country of long distances: sparsely populated with towns and cities quite far apart.

Many people from Inkoo travel to the capital (Helsinki, if someone didn’t know) to work every day. After the train connection is terminated most of them will have to use cars to make the trip. Buses in Finland are pretty slow (I say this from personal experience – the 45-minute trip from my home village to the nearest town takes over an hour with a bus and my work trip would take at least three times as long with a bus as it does now with a local commuter train) and some of the equipment is ancient.

The decision to terminate the train link has been strongly personated by the minister of traffic and transportation, Anne Berner ( a wealthy business owner/millionaire who as a minister gets taxi service paid by state). Obviously she doesn’t use public transport so I understand if she doesn’t see the need for trains or buses or somesuch.

I would think, however, that in light of the recent decisions made in Paris the electric commuter trains (especially the threatened Y-line through Inkoo) would be supported by the decision-makers. Obviously the common folk would support the line.

After the decision by the ministry was voiced in August (I think? Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong…) there were several opinion texts in the biggest newspaper in Finland. One of them quoted a 16-year-old girl who had just started a school in Helsinki trusting she could travel from her home in Inkoo to Helsinki with a train every day. Schools in Helsinki are considered rather prestigious (whether there’s a reason to that I cannot attest for as I went to school over 300kms away) and she obviously wants to attend a good school to get to a good university slightly easier (this point is kinda true because schools in Helsinki have a wider curriculum than for example my little school in the countryside).

Anyway, the opinion writer told the public that the girl had been freaking out and crying in the train while speaking on the phone because after hearing the decision she thought she’d made a huge mistake and would have to quit the school just because she couldn’t commute anymore. I doubt she is the only one.

Finland has a lot of train track laid down and several stations along them where trains no longer stop due to imagined savings. I have no definite numbers, but I could imagine that if a train did stop in all the abandoned stations we as a nation could cut back on our carbon dioxide emissions.

Where commercial traffic is concerned I was on the other hand rather worried when I read a news article where one of the commenters thought Finland didn’t need any domestic heavy traffic. I think he thought we could replace all freight trucks and rigs and whatever they are called by electric cars or trucks or train transport.

With distances as great as we have in Finland that is totally surreal. I know several truck drivers in my personal life or trough my employment, and should everything be operated through train or electric trucks no one would – literally – eat in this country.

To think someone really thinks that way this time and age is jarring. I cannot wrap my head around that kind of stupid (and trust me, at work I meet insanely stupid people every day). It’s just like… what on EARTH did I just read?!

I care for the environment enough to not own a car (my husband has one and he’s the only one of us who has a driver’s license) and either walk or commute wherever I go. I only buy domestic food whenever I can. I turn off the lights when I leave the room – or sit in near darkness most of the time: TV and/or computer screen produce more than enough light to get around. I dream of a house that doesn’t need to be heated with electricity and where even water is heated without electric power – like the one my parents live in. I know people who grow and butcher their own meat (and I wish I was one of them). I think leather and fur (& linen & cotton) are a more ecological choice than synthetic fabric and I’m not ashamed.

To consider that we as a race should take time to save our planet and that the decision-makers still decide against it… no matter what they promise in international convetions… That just makes me sick to my stomach.

Please just try to be more sensible than those who spend our money for us. Do that one little thing for Planet Earth.

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