TALLINN – Tartu Mayor Urmas Klaas said that it is necessary to establish a regular passenger train connection between southeastern Estonian university town of Tartu and Latvian capital Riga and, according to him, the issue of the train connection must also be discussed in the Estonian and Latvian governments.
"Transport connections in the direction of Tallinn will become much better by 2024: the journey time between Tartu and Tallinn will be 1.35 hours and new trains will start running on the electrified railway. At the same time, there will be a real opportunity to establish the Riga-Tartu train connection, but this requires close cooperation between the Estonian and Latvian governments," Klaas said in a press release, adding that the harmonization of Latvian and Estonian train timetables should start immediately.
Kaido Zimmermann, chairman of the management board of state-owned railway infrastructure company Estonian Railways, said that it would be possible to create a connection between the two cities in 2024 at the latest.
According to Klaas, access to Tartu and South Estonia will become especially important in 2024, because Tartu, together with 19 municipalities of South Estonia, will then hold the title of European Capital of Culture. "Being the European Capital of Culture will bring a lot of people to Tartu, and therefore it is necessary to work to ensure that Tartu and South Estonia are connected to the world by fast and safe air, road and rail transport," the mayor said.
The Connecting Europe Express train of the European Year of Rail stopped at Tartu railway station on Tuesday, which, among other things, drew attention to the need for a train connection between Tartu and Riga.
The train brought to Tartu representatives of the Baltic railway industry and the European Commission, led by European Commission's Director-General for mobility and transport Henrik Hololei and the ministers of transport of the three Baltic states.
After stopping in Tartu, the train headed to Valka, from where it will already travel to Latvia and Lithuania. Dedicated to the European Year of Rail, the journey of the Connecting Europe Express train across 26 countries started in Lisbon in early September.