HELSINKI, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) -- The Kimola Canal, a scenic waterway, opens in Finland on Monday, connecting the southeastern Kouvola area to the two biggest lakes in central Finland -- Lake Paijanne and Lake Keitele.
The total length of the canal is 5.5 km, including a 70-meter tunnel in the rock for boats to sail through, which is unique in Finland. The 12-meter rise in the adjoining lock also makes it the largest ship lock in Finland, according to the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency.
Costing some 20 million euros (23.5 million U.S. dollars), the Kimola Canal was built on the ruins of an old log canal. The canal could be used for both tourism and freight. The height of the rock tunnel is enough to allow small passenger ships to go through.
First private boats had arrived in the canal late Sunday night to be the first entering the ship lock. Hundreds of people witnessed the opening ceremony at 10 a.m. local time.
The southern end of the Kimola Canal is Kouvola, a city known as a railroad hub, which had become several years ago the Finnish end of a China-Europe freight railway starting from the northern Chinese city of Xi'an.
The canal now opens an inland waterway connection up to around 400 kilometers to the north with cities such as Lahti, Jyvaskyla and Aanekoski.
Harri Liikanen, a project director at the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, told Xinhua on Monday that canals in Finland levy no service charges and boaters can use them free of charge.
Despite the huge dimensions of the ship lock, private boaters could still "pull the ropes" and operate the automated lock on a self-service basis. There is no staff on location, but it could be remotely controlled as well, he said.
Antti Nyberg, head of construction services for Kouvola City, said the Kimola Canal opens possibilities for new touristic services. "The Kimola Canal as such is an attraction with its massive landscape," he said.
Eija Hilden, CEO of the Paijanne Risteilyt, a leading cruiser operator in Finnish central lakes, told Xinhua though that their planned tours this summer had to be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.