The tram is the main means of public transport in the inner city. Around 200,000 passengers use Helsinki’s extensive network of tram lines every weekday. About 55 million journeys are made by tram each year. Apparently the Helsinki tram network is one of the oldest electrified tram networks in the world.The new trams in particular are extremely silent and comfortable and we really enjoyed using them to get around the city. All city maps show tram routes so it is difficult to get lost. There are 12 tram lines in operation at present with three special lines operated during the summer. The system, which currently extends for about 90 kilometres, has been expanded in recent years and more extensions are proposed.
One of our hotels was a little out of the city but it was on a tram route so we used the tram frequently and always found it punctual and reliable. It is good to remember that the doors shut automatically so people with reduced mobility should use the door nearest the driver. When you want to get off, press the stop button once the tram has moved off from the previous stop.
It’s easy to pay for your journey using a travelcard or your mobile phone, however, many visitors will not use this system. You can load your travelcard with a period of time or an amount of money and this will work out cheaper than buying a ticket for each journey. Mobile phone tickets must be purchased before entering the tram. Single tickets can be bought on trams. We had a Helsinki Card and this gave unlimited free public transport so we had no difficulty at all with tickets. This is very good if you plan on moving around a lot. The Card also gives free access to many museums.
In the inner city there are screen at tram stops showing the number of the next tram and the number of minutes until it arrives. This sophisticated system was extremely useful. The screens at tram stops check the location of trams using GPS. If, for some reason, the tram cannot make contact with the satellite, the display at the stop will show the tram arrival time based on the time in the timetable (with a ~ sign before the minutes).
HKL Tram Transport runs the trams on behalf of HSL Helsinki Region Transport and is also responsible for maintaining and replacing rolling stock. In December 2010, HKL announced that it had awarded a €113m contract for the supply of 40 three-section trams to domestic manufacturer Transtech Oy, with deliveries scheduled for 2014-15.