€17 million to buy railroad for a decade

While even Pärnu County local government heads deem it senseless to spend €17 million on emergency repairs of a stretch of railroad, the economy ministry's plan is serious.

The idea of renovating the Lelle-Pärnu railroad has been around for years. Now a decision is needed on whether to renovate the connection or end rail traffic.

The Technical Regulatory Authority (TJA) has estimated that passenger trains have to be limited to 80 kilometers per hour on unrenovated stretches of railroad until 2019. „The speed will probably be reduced from 2019 as tracks and sleepers are worn. The future of that stretch of railroad is for the government to decide – whether to invest, and if so then how much,“ said PR chief specialist at TJA Anu Võlma.

60 kilometers per hour

Former Pärnu mayor, Reform Party MP Toomas Kivimägi said that once speeds are limited to 60 kilometers per hour the railroad will lose its meaning. „A bold decision of whether to invest or close the railroad and say Rail Baltic will make up for it is needed,“ Kivimägi, who is a member of the Riigikogu Economic Affairs Committee, said.

Adviser at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications Mihkel Loide pointed out that rail traffic will not commence on Rail Baltic until at least 2026. „Renovation of the Lelle-Pärnu section will cost approximately €17 million in total. That would make it possible to ensure speeds of up to 120 kilometers per hour for a decade, or until Rail Baltic is completed,“ Loide said. „The government is set to have a regional rail network development plan in June based on which the decision will be made.“

Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson, elected to the Riigikogu in Pärnu County, said toward the beginning of the year that the Lelle-Pärnu section of the railroad needs to be renovated. Renovation work is allegedly an item on the state's list of strategic investments the government discussed last week.

„If the government believes in Rail Baltic, I do not deem it rational to invest in the Lelle-Pärnu railroad. While it would extend the old railroad's lifespan, it would not be sensible in light of the major future investment,“ Kivimägi said. The politician added the county holds Rail Baltic, Via Baltica, and Pärnu Airport to be far more important objects.

„Had we all these, we could of course also invest in the Lelle-Pärnu railroad; however, we have no reason to believe Pärnu County will get the money for all four,“ he said.

„There is no sense in reconstructing the old railroad while waiting for Rail Baltic,“ said county governor Kalev Kaljuste (SDE).

The city of Pärnu asked the ministry to reallocate €20 million intended for reconstruction of the railroad for the Pärnu Airport and a four-lane stretch of the Via Baltica highway between Pärnu and Uulu late last year.

112 people a day

Passenger operator Elron reports that the Lelle-Pärnu connection serviced 41,000 passengers last year, or 112 people a day.

Passengers are residents of rural areas whose transport needs should be taken care of by the state should the railroad be closed, Kaljuste believes. „I doubt people take the train to Pärnu these days. It is already too slow. The days of rail traffic are over,“ he added.

Kaljuste said that Pärnu County candidate Simson is between a rock and hard place. „The minister doesn't want to be the one to shut down rail traffic in the county. That is probably not the message she wants to send. While we need to understand her, we also need to understand local leaders – and listen to them. If possible, the money should be used for smarter decisions,“ Kaljuste added. He said that Rail Baltic could also service local rail traffic.

„Today there is only a single stop in Pärnu. However, there could be others. We could have a regional stop near Tootsi and Häädemeeste. It would bring Rail Baltic closer to the locals.“

€17milliontobuyrailroadforadecade
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
1 view in march
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Politics
Chairman of the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and one of the owners of construction group Nordecon, Toomas Luman, finds that a prime ministerial candidate should first and foremost be able to answer the question of what will become of the demographic crisis in Estonia. The businessman sees controlled introduction of foreign labor as the solution. A digital construction cluster was created in Estonia a few years back to bring innovation to the s...
Society
Last year saw 27,125 registered offenses, up 0.5 percent from the year before. Violent crime was up by 12 percent to 8,249 offenses. PHOTO: Dominic Lipinski / PA Wire / Press Association Images / Scanpix Growth was biggest for domestic violence – the police launched criminal proceedings in 3,607 cases that constitutes an increase of more than one-third – annual growth of 37 percent from 2,632 cases in 2017. At the same time, reports of domestic violence we...
Society
TALLINN - Ahead of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, tens of thousands of British citizens have chosen the citizenship of some other country, but only one Brit has recently chosen an Estonian citizenship. Spokespeople for the Ministry of the Interior told BNS that only one British citizen submitted an application for Estonian citizenship last year and the applicant was also granted the citizenship. Before that, no Brits had soug...
Society
TALLINN - Experts from Finland, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands highlighted the importance of decentralization and granting local governments greater decision-making powers at a conference titled "Strong local government -- strong state?" in Tallinn on Wednesday.  All Nordic countries have chosen a model granting local governments significant decision-making powers, thus the central government does not prescribe how local governments are to fulfill the...
Society
The language learning application Drops by game developer Planb Labs, established in Estonia by Hungarian founders, was named Google Play's best app of 2018. With the number of downloads surpassing 10 million, Drops was named Google's app of the year as the revenue of Planb Labs, a company registered in Estonia, increased fivefold, CNBC said. The developer's revenue grew from €335,000 in 2017 to €1.7 million in 2018. The company's shareholders include Hung...
Society
TALLINN - The Estonian Health Board has banned the distribution of chlorine dioxide, also marketed as the Miracle Mineral Supplement (MMS), the A-component of an unused product, meaning the sodium chlorite solution, must be taken to a hazardous waste collection facility. Ester Opik, head of the Health Board's North regional department, said that the banning of the distribution of the product was caused by the fact that MMS, distributed as a cosmetics produ...
Society
Nature cannot abide a vacancy, as the saying goes. If just one year ago, Estonia was battling the sale of MMS and the practice of giving it to children, a new “miracle cure” called Advanced TRS has appeared on the market now. Even though the make-up of the substance is different, the promise to cure autism and cleanse the body of heavy metals, which kind of extreme detox is accompanied by severe side-effects, sounds all too familiar. TRS is recommended to...
Society
Allied NATO battalions will soon mark two years serving in the Baltics. They have worked better than expected but would need prepositioned heavy weaponry and a functional contingency plan in case of a crisis, a report by the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS) finds. “We do not know how Russia would have acted had we not welcomed allies in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in 2017. I’m afraid they would have tested our resolve,” one of...
Society
The time of filing income tax returns is nearly upon us. The new income tax system, in effect since last year, will obligate many women who went on maternity leave toward the end of the year to make additional income tax payments, while those who give birth in the middle or at the beginning of the year have no such obligation. What this means is that some women will owe the state simply for giving birth “at the wrong time”. Laura Roop, who went on maternit...