TALLINN - It would be right to restore the Tartu-Riga train connection during the summer tourist season of 2023, so that the route would be broken in by the year of the Tartu Capital of Culture, Tartu Mayor Urmas Klaas said after a visit to Riga before Easter.
According to Klaas, the operator able to establish a connection the fastest is the Latvian railway company Pasazieru vilciens, for whom this would essentially be an extension of the Riga-Valka route, the regional Tartu Postimees writes.
"From the moment it is agreed, they need 12 months to launch the train," he said. "They presented to us a modernized diesel train, which was manufactured in Latvia 20 years ago and thoroughly reconstructed five years ago. The Latvian company is ready to update it even further. It has both a first and second class."
According to the current schedule, the journey time from Tartu to Riga would be 3 hours and 50 minutes, omitting some stops would make the journey time somewhat faster, the Tartu Postimees writes.
Klaas said that as the next step, Latvians will send their exact offer, and on the basis of this, the necessary amount of support can be planned in the budget of the following years in cooperation with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and the Ministry of Finance. Although the route is considered to be socio-economically viable and essential for the development of the region, it is felt that, at least initially, it does not pay off in economic terms.
"In order for Tartu to be a dignified European Capital of Culture in 2024, a railway connection with Riga is necessary, this is something we all agree on with the representatives of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and the board of Estonian Railways," the mayor said. "A very good sign is that our Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications sent a representation at the level of the heads of two departments, they saw with their own eyes and attended the meetings."