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The two metro lines in Helsinki Metro are the main veins of the city, linking East Helsinki to the western suburbs of Espoo. Used by the public since August 1982, the 43 kilometer track was subject to extensions supported by the development of better safety and control technologies. The transport system also needed to grow to accommodate the increasing number of daily commuters and tourists. In 2007, a two-phase project began to extend the West Metro from Ruoholahti to Kivenlahti. Jensen Hughes was asked to carry out the fire engineering services for the extension.

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The Problem

One of the main challenges of this project was the development of a fire strategy that could work with the old structure of the railway and the new proposed rail. Discrepancies between the old and new design were mainly due to our effort to abide by the new codes set by the local Helsinki City Transport authority. Accessibility and easy evacuation plans also became a main issue to resolve when working on the underground tunnels. For example, evacuation plans needed to be developed to meet the needs of the most vulnerable people.

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The Solution

In the first stage of the project, our fire engineering experts developed the fire technical design and risk assessment for a 14-kilometer extension, with eight stations built in a tunnel excavated in bedrock. We also inspected the development of the construction work on site to test, control and check the work progress. Working closely with architecture and design firms, we overcame design issues and made sure that the work on site was compliant with requirements. Our engineers used their expertise in building smart and innovative evacuation plans and simulations to develop a system divided into compartments of isolated parts in the underground structure. We went to great lengths to design safe escape routes between dirty tunnels where incidents occur and clean tunnels that become isolated to keep passengers, workers, and tourists safe. We also successfully designed a new evacuation lift model for the underground and tunnels to respond to people’s need for easy and clean evacuation routes. Our team’s multiple expert consultants committed to providing regular support for code compliance reviews and site inspections. More than 160 inspections were facilitated to study the alignment of the on-site work with the design intentions. This dedication to surveying the site marked a turning point with the client by detecting any deviation at early stages that could lower the cost and reduce additional construction time. As one of several examples, the team was able to detect at an early stage that the escape staircase wasn’t constructed according to the drawings and regulations. Through a systematic approach, the staff helped detect the problem, schedule timely inspections and solve the deviation in timely manner.

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The Results

We pride ourselves for delivering premium services for over 15 years on this project, striving to meet the Helsinki City Transport’s expectations and helping to make this the “safest metro in the world.” Jensen Hughes helped to ensure compliance with statutory requirements by identifying the hidden defects and deviations in early stages and avoiding repeated mistakes. There were no surprises in the implementation phase, and we helped minimize risk for schedule delays. The client was particularly satisfied with the quality and timeliness of the work provided by our experts stating, “We always need experts and Jensen Hughes has all good specialists – in fact, the best producers in Finland.” The evacuation system prototype we designed for this project was also used in other projects in Finland, such as high-rise towers and a complex shopping mall project.

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