Action plan to reduce the maintenance backlog of transport infrastructure 2016–2018

The Finnish transport network is deteriorating due to the insufficient funding allocated for maintenance. At present the maintenance backlog of the transport network amounts to about 2.5 billion euros.

In order to reduce the maintenance backlog of the transport network, additional funding of 600 million euros has been granted for the period 2016–2018, 100 million euros of which is allocated for 2016 and 200 million euros for 2017. The additional funding will stop the accumulation of the maintenance backlog, and reverse the negative trend. The additional funding will meet the needs of especially the economic life and commuter traffic. Although the funds granted for reducing the maintenance backlog will be used effectively, it is impossible to repair all important objects in poor condition.

Ministry of Transport and Communications: Listening to customers in an effort to decrease debt related to the transport network's maintenance backlog

Maintenance backlog objects shown on the map

The map only shows the objects to be repaired with the 600 million euro granted to reduce the maintenance backlog. In addition to these objects, the Finnish Transport Agency and the ELY Centres will carry out similar maintenance projects amounting to about 360 million euros per year.

The objects listed in the action plan to reduce the maintenance backlog will be repaired in 2016-2018. Of the in total 600 million euros granted, 35 million euros will be allocated for digitalisation, and about 39 million euros for small separate objects, in addition to the objects presented on the map. Such objects are, for example, pavements of short road stretches, repairs of frost damages on gravel roads, road drainage improvements and equipment and device repairs.

FAQ about the maintenance backlog objects

What is the maintenance backlog action plan all about?

Prime Minister Sipilä's Government has decided to allocate 600 million euros for cutting the maintenance backlog of transport infrastructure in 2016 - 2018. Reduction of the maintenance backlog is one of the Government's key projects amounting to 1.6 billion euros. The Finnish Transport Agency has drawn up a three-year action plan to reduce the maintenance backlog. For the public roads the plan has been drafted in cooperation with the regional centres.

What is meant by the maintenance backlog of the transport infrastructure?

The maintenance backlog refers to the sum of money required to meet the current demands of infrastructure in  good condition. The maintenance backlog comprises roads, railways and waterways. The maintenance backlog has accumulated for example in the road and railway structures, bridges, railway yards as well as in the equipment and devices.

In addition to the maintenance backlog, there are many objects in need of repair in the transport network, which cannot be addressed within the scope of this funding. The funding for the maintenance backlog is not intended for the building of new transport infrastructure, auxiliary lanes or tracks or the improvement of intersections.

What kind of objects are included in the maintenance backlog action plan?

The action plan comprises repairs in the existing transport infrastructure. In addition to the maintenance backlog, there are many objects in need of repair in the transport network, which cannot be addressed within the scope of this funding. Without this funding the transport infrastructure would quickly deteriorate. The objects are for example:

- on public roads: basic repairs on roads in poor condition and  repairs and renewals of bridges with weight limits.

- on railways: renewals of signal boxes to ensure traffic safety, repairs of structures, repairs and renewals of bridges in poor condition, replacements of outdated technology, also regarding the catenary system, improvements and extensions of railway yards and timber terminals.

- on waterways: basic repairs of some large fixed aids to navigation in poor condition and renewals of the lock gates in the Saimaa Canal.

Why have these object been chosen?

The general criteria for choosing these objects were that the repairs should meet customer needs and reduce the maintenance backlog of the transport routes. The focus lies on the needs of the economy; removing barriers to growth and meeting the demand in commuter areas. We also wish to promote digitalisation and new services. The funding is allocated for important objects for optimal impact.

The objects have been chosen by the expert organisations, the Finnish Transport Agency and the Regional Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment. The Finnish Transport Agency has compiled the action plan. The regional centres have done the expert work concerning the roads and the Finnish Transport Agency that of the railways and waterways. The selection of objects was based on an extensive dialogue especially with the business life (charterers, transport companies and business interest associations).

How can digitalisation alleviate the maintenance backlog?

More effective solutions to the problems are sought by utilising innovations and technology. Digitalisation makes it easier to identify customer needs, improve infrastructure management, introduce new traffic services and prepare for traffic automation.

Digitalisation can help to more accurately pinpoint the needs for repair in the transport infrastructure and to more precisely plan and target the actions. In this manner, digitalisation can increase the cost-effectiveness of infrastructure maintenance and the improved methods can slow down the accumulation rate of the maintenance backlog.

Digitalisation will also make it possible to allocate and schedule maintenance measures more exactly to meet customer needs.

At present, much research and development work is done to promote traffic automation and robotisation. Digitalisation and automation will change the demands on the transport infrastructure. The long-term objective is that the condition of Finland's transport network  meets the digitalisation and automation requirements so that the existing transport infrastructure is suitable for intelligent traffic services.

What are the impacts of this action plan?

From the customers' perspective, this action plan:

- reduces journey and transport time (for example, by removing weight and speed limits, reducing the number of roads in poor condition, and repairing railway superstructures)

-  ensures punctuality in railway traffic (for example by renewing signal boxes and improving the catenary system)

- ensures that the transport network is in usable condition (by repairing or renewing bridges in poor condition, aids to navigation, lock gates in the Saimaa Canal)

- timber terminals enhance the effectiveness of the timber transport system

- new equipment and devices improve traffic safety.