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Helsingin rautatieasema (Helsinki Central railway station) | by Jorge Lascar
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Helsingin rautatieasema (Helsinki Central railway station)

Helsinki Central railway station (Finnish: Helsingin rautatieasema) is a widely recognised landmark in central Helsinki, Finland, and the focal point of public transport in the Greater Helsinki area. 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. 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"). The station is used by approximately 200,000 passengers per day, making it Finland's most-visited building. There are 19 platforms at the station. Numbers 1-4 are on the east side and serve local trains on the Tikkurila route, their tracks stop short of the main station roof. Numbers 5-12 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 13-19 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 which all trains stop at, 5 minutes out of Helsinki main station. Outside the station the loading area for the Finnish car-carrying trains is on the west side. Also on the west side, a branch freight route turns to the west and passes through the inner west side of Helsinki to the West Harbour. 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 are 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 are bus stations on both sides of the main station building, and the Finnair airport bus leaves from the west side. 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 right hand side of, the station. []

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Taken on November 28, 2008