Multi-functional development of station areas

In the early autumn period, MDI and FCG worked on the development of the Asemanseutu project which is part of the project package – Vitality for Urban Regions. The work undertaken clarified the basic models for the multi-functional development of station areas, as well as providing recommendations for their development and financing.

Tampereen asemanseutu. Kuva: Timo Hämäläinen.

The work has examined previous development and financing models, as well as international examples, and has interviewed representatives of the MAL network’s station areas, as well as representatives from the business sector and the state. As part of the project, two more workshops will be conducted, the results of which will lead to the creation of a roadmap for utilising EU funding in station areas, and a proposal plan for the development activities of various types of station areas. The work is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.

Station area development models and the arc of development 

In Finland, station regions have not yet adopted one of the development or financing models. Each station area, as an individual entity with scattered land holdings, has required individual solutions. In Europe, uniform development and financing models have been introduced more widely. In Sweden, the state-led “city close to the station” (den stationsnärä staden) model is designed to strengthen development in the largest station areas. With this development model, these station areas in the largest cities have been condensed by the state, utilising versatile urban development, where architecture, the integration of public and private functions, and a green urban environment create a compact district that invites you to live, move and meet. In Denmark, the “600-metre city” has been used as a development model, where entire neighbourhoods are planned in such a way that an urban environment within a five-minute walk around a rail station is formed within a radius of approximately 600 metres. In the Danish development model, a “master plan” was first created by public actors, but the role of private actors in the implementation process has been emphasised. 

The arc of development in respect of station areas is lengthy. The change in rail traffic operation and purpose of use acts as a driving force here, determining how the station area is to be developed more systematically. With the change in functionality, the service level of rail traffic is determined at a level that serves as a starting point for the decision on how to develop the station area. Only after this do we move on to hard planning, financing and construction. The journey from an unfinished to finished station area can take 5–50 years. 

Making up for the reduction in national development funds with EU funding 

The development of station areas has been extensively conceptualised and planned. To enable implementation of these plans, suitable financing models must however be found. EU funding has thus far been a little used means, although some station regions have successfully used it to implement individual sub-assemblies in the absence of national funds or private funding. 

As an international example of the utilisation of EU funding, Slovenia was examined, as significant support here has been received from the EU for the development of station areas. In 2021, 90.7 million EUR was granted for the modernisation of six stations between Ljubljana and Maribor by 2026 From the CEF financial instrument. With this financing help, the infrastructure of the stations will be updated to better meet the needs of future rail traffic. 

EU funding could also provide opportunities for Finnish station areas. It is useful here to look at development activities in relation to the topics emphasised in the various EU funding programmes. This applies to both the national pot and international instruments. The emphasised themes here are the green and digital transitions, the fight against climate change and associated adaptation measures, energy efficiency and the transition to a circular economy. 

The EU’s international programmes should, moreover, be utilised more fully when the goals set are extensive: more money is distributed, the projects are larger, and the grant percentages are higher. In addition, it may be possible to receive assistance for various types of pilot investments. In international projects, one can carry out impressive experiments, promote low-carbon accessibility and at the same time become part of larger entities and travel chains. In many programmes, joint consortia of cities, research institutes, third sector organisations and private-sector companies can also be formed. For example, in the R&D programme Horisont, there are searches related to low-carbon construction and circular economy suitable for the development of the urban environment and real estate. Special buzzwords here currently include, the New European Bauhaus, which brings a cultural and creative dimension to the green transition, and BUILT4PEOPLE which emphasises a human-centred climate-neutral and intelligent built environment. 

Strategic thinking and overall management are essential in properly utilising funding. Once the big goals and development entities have been defined, it is easier to reflect them on funding opportunities and, based on that, to break down the measures into bigger and smaller tasks. Larger development projects are suitable for coordinating development on the top themes, while smaller grants and market-based financing can support the whole. Depending on the instrument, the applicants for funding can be municipalities, educational and research organisations, associations and companies, or coalitions formed by the former, in which key players from the point of view of the development of the station area are involved. 


Henri Helve, Specialist,

Jaana Myllyluoma, Senior Specialist,


Development of station areas through business cooperation – cooperation models and financing

Contact for more information:

A sustainable green transition is achieved by investing in the diversity of RDI activities – the AGDA project continues to work on this theme

AGDA is a Nordic development project funded by the Nordic Gender Equality Fund (NIKK). The project focuses on the opportunities that a greater focus on diversity and inclusion could create in the RDI-field, particularly in respect of green transition.

Read more A sustainable green transition is achieved by investing in the diversity of RDI activities – the AGDA project continues to work on this theme