Aas looking for additional millions for Rail Baltic stops

Janno Riispapp
, reporter
Photo: Liis Treimann

Rail Baltic will also have local trains for which local stops will be constructed by 2030 at the latest, Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas (Center) promised. Aas hopes to finance the construction from sale of emissions quotas, European subsidies or other state budget resources.

In the planning of the Estonian section of Rail Baltic the emphasis lies on location of stops, infrastructure functions and launching the financing debate,” the ministry communicated.

“An international railroad can deliver a considerable developmental impulse for nearby settlements, while this requires a good route network, carefully considered infrastructure and regular traffic,” Aas said.

“In addition, a modern railroad is an environmental project that can serve as one piece in the puzzle of Estonia’s climate obligations. Rail Baltic is an electric railroad, and if we can move cargo from trucks and passengers from cars and buses onto the rails, a much smaller transport footprint will have been achieved,” Aas added.

County plans list possible passenger train stops for Rail Baltic at Ülemiste, Astangu, Luige, Saku, Kurtna, Kohila, Rapla, Järvakandi, Kaisma, Tootsi, Kilksama, Pärnu and Häädemeeste. Ülemiste and Pärnu will become international passenger terminals, while the construction of all other stops would require local initiative and support.

The general design of local stops has been provided by the Rail Baltic architectural guide that was put together with support from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). The construction of a single stop is estimated to cost around €2 million.

“This is where local governments and communities play an important role in being involved in determining the location of stops and the kind of infrastructure local people need. Rail Baltic’s local stops need to consider residential, economic and developmental plans in the region,” Tiit Terik, head of the Association of Estonian Cities and Municipalities, said.

Head of Rail Baltic Estonia Riia Sillave said that the project’s working timetable from this spring allows for eight local trains every day.

“A local train would be able to travel at up to 200 kilometers per hour, making it preferable to a car or bus,” Sillave said. “The planned 11 stops would surely attract more young families and enterprise to rural areas. European experiences suggest that a nearby modern rail connection is considered a great advantage in terms of living environment.

Following the economy minister’s proposal, Rail Baltic local stops will be constructed by 2030 at the latest to reduce Estonia’s greenhouse gas emissions. Sheltered development of train traffic as an environmentally friendly mode of transport is also prioritized by Estonia’s incoming transport and mobility development plan.

The Rail Baltic project will see two sets of tracks of European track gauge (1,435 mm) constructed along 870 kilometers of electrified railroad from Tallinn to the border of Lithuania and Poland.

The railroad will allow passenger trains to move at speeds of up to 249 km/h on express lines and 200 km/h on local lines and cargo trains to travel at up to 120 km/h.