TALLINN – The Estonian government on Thursday approved the national railway development plan for the period until 2028, which foresees nearly 900 million euros in investments to electrify existing railway and increase speeds to 160 kilometers per hour in the direction of Tartu, Narva, Viljandi and Haapsalu.
Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas said that the railway's new coming and its development is making railway the backbone of all transport again.
"Train passenger numbers have doubled since the new trains were introduced, and we expect a similar increase this decade," Aas said in a press release.
By the end of 2024, six new, more comfortable trains will arrive in Estonia to increase the passenger capacity of train services. It will also be possible to use an option to buy ten more trains.
"Ninety million euros is available from the modernization fund for the purchase of 10 additional trains, which covers the total cost of the additional trains. We need more trains to provide more frequent services on an electrified and faster railway," Aas said.
The plan is to fully electrify the railways belonging to Estonian Railways by 2028. At the same time, a new traffic control system will be established on the Tallinn-Tapa, Tapa-Narva, Tapa-Tartu and Tartu-Valga sections to allow for higher speeds.
On the Tartu and Narva lines, the track will also be straightened so that trains can travel longer sections at 160 kilometers per hour.
Aas said that train service can bring major cities much closer to passengers. For example, passengers can get from Tallinn to Tartu in an hour and a half in the future.
"Rail is one of the best levers to reduce car use and the number of trucks on the roads. Building on the Transport and Mobility Development Plan, we will create a situation where people can travel more comfortably, safely and quickly by environmentally friendly train than by other modes of transport," the minister said.
In addition to upgrades to the existing railway, the construction of new railways has been taken into account.
"Separately from the action plan, we are developing Rail Baltic in order to get a fast connection to Parnu, Riga and from there on to Europe. The Haapsalu railway up to Rohukula can be completed by 2026 if an additional 80 million euros can be found during budget discussions," Aas said.
There will be 14 stops in Estonia on the track of the Rail Baltic, which will provide for local connections in addition to the high-speed connection between Tallinn and Parnu. There will be local stops at Ulemiste, Assaku, Luige, Saku, Kurtna, Kohila, Rapla, Jarvakandi, Kaisma, Tootsi, Urge, Parnu, Surju and Haademeeste.