Lars Anders Baer, Senior member of the WGIP from Jokkmokk
Anna, how do you find the Barents transport infrastructure?
"I do really like the transportation logistics in Finland and in Nordic countries. There you can get from one part of the country to another by plane/train/bus/car without any problems and pretty fast. In Russia you often can't get to some destinations in time (buses or trains goes only ones or twice a week), in some parts of Karelia there's no road at all, only helicopter transportation. And every time you should always plan your travel in well in advance."
What is your favorite stretch of road the Barents region?
"The stretch of road Petrozavodsk-Joensuu I will call my favorite. This it very popular route in our part of Karelia (or at list it used to be before euro rate began to rise). The road is in pretty well condition, there are a lot of nice cafes by the way."
"Nowadays we have a choice; you can travel to Joensuu by train/car or bus. But I prefer to go by car - it is faster and cheaper than other versions."
Veli-Matti, how do you find the Barents transport infrastructure?
“In general I feel like the roads in the region are in good condition. Of course there is a difference when travelling on the Russian side, but actually also there the roads have been improving a lot in those 15 years that I have been driving there."
"Naturally the roads on the fjells of the North of Norway are in many places narrower and more winding than for example in Finland, but they are in good condition."
"There is one big difference that I have noticed in the driving culture in the Barents countries. In Sweden drivers are polite and friendly, they give you space when you need to change lanes etc. I think we could learn from them.”
What is your favorite stretch of a road or route in the Barents region?
“This is a hard question. I have many roads that I enjoy driving, for example the road between Murmansk – Kandalaksha. However, if I have to choose one favorite, I would say it is the road starting from Ivalo through Inari to Utsjoki. The scenery is beautiful and the nature is nicely changing on the way.”
Pia, how do you find the Barents transport infrastructure?
"The Barents transport infrastructure lacks east-west connections. All countries in the region are north-south oriented when it comes to transport infrastructure. The lack of east-west connections constitutes an obstacle to our cooperation in the north. For many years we have had a flight connecting Tromsø-Murmansk-Archangelsk. This has been the only east-west connection by plane and now it is not flying anymore, hopefully it will come back next year."
"In January, we will get a new flight route connecting Tromsø-Luleå-Oulu, this is really good news and means a lot for the cooperation between Norway, Sweden and Finland in the north. Maybe in the future it will be possible to even connect with Murmansk and Arkhangelsk as well. Good and functional transport infrastructure between the countries in the Barents-region is crucial for strengthening the cooperation. A railway connection would be a mayor asset for us and in addition it will be good for the environment. Today caravans of polluting trailers are transporting goods in and out our region."
What is your favorite stretch of a road / rail line / flight route in the Barents region?
"A train has never been an option since I have lived in Tromsø and now I live in Kirkenes. I think my favorite road is through the beautiful Lapland landscape in Finland, especially along the lake at Kilpisjärvi and the Torneå river down to Tornio-Haparanda."