€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 january
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Politics
Even though education is a matter close to the heart of Estonia 200 leader Kristina Kallas, she cannot imagine herself fighting for the post of education minister: ideas can also be realized by someone else. You just took away Postimees’ editor-in-chief. In your opinion, how is the editorial to feel? Lauri [Hussar] had to give the matter thought, and I presume he did. We talked about why he wants to go into politics. Still, to what extent do you imagine wh...
Society
TALLINN – Russia is seeking integration in Estonia only in words, Kalev Stoicescu, researcher at the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS) who is running on the ticket of the Estonia 200 party in the March 3 general elections, said on Wednesday commenting on the words said on the subject by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.  "Russia is the only neighboring state which does not wish -- due to its own interests -- progress in integration...
Politics
Former top centrist Evelyn Sepp admitted that she donated money the origin of which was unknown to her to the Center Party in 2006. The former politician claimed other members also engaged in the practice but refused to name names. Sepp’s confession on ETV investigative journalism program «Pealtnägija» does not come as a total bombshell. She first said that such covert funding of parties is a widespread practice in the aftermath of the Silvergate scandal i...
Society
"In addition to our ongoing programme of passenger vessel renovations, we are also continuing to upgrade and modernise our cargo vessels to ensure that we continue to develop this important part of our business," he noted, adding that the relocation of the company's Estonia-Finland cargo route to Muuga on the Estonian side in October 2017 and the launch of the Smart Port solution in Tallinn's Old City Harbour in spring 2018 both contributed to improved ser...
Society
During the final week of 2018, a total of 2,524 patients with viral upper respiratory infections sought medical attention, 47.5% of whom were children. A total of 210 cases of influenza were laboratory confirmed, nearly twice as many as during the week before, according to Health Board data. Over the past two weeks, the number of flu cases has quadrupled. The majority of these cases were laboratory confirmed at emergency medical departments, from which pat...
Society
I actually think that B1 is too low of a bar for attaining citizenship. You still can't participate in Estonian society on anything other than a superficial level as noted above, so I'm not sure how you can constitute a "citizen" on that basis. Naturally there has to be a high degree of arbitrariness, and that's precisely the point — whilst B1 level might be sufficient in German or French (I understand that it is the benchmark level when applying for citiz...
Society
Following a white Christmas throughout most of Estonia, Wednesday will see sleet and even rain in parts of the country, and temperatures hovering around the freezing point will means slippery road conditions. Early Wednesday morning, many major highways were salted or wet, but some patches were still icy, the Estonian Road Administration said. Eastern parts of the country will see scattered rain or sleet. Temperatures throughout the day will remain around...
Society
Last weekend, Christmas Eve as well as Christmas Day and Boxing Day still ahead means that most chemist's shops are closed for five days in a row. Tallinners can still get hold of prescription as well as over-the-counter drugs in the 5 Tõnismägi St and 19 Vikerlase St shops. As doctors' practices are closed for the holidays as well, people will have to turn to the emergency room of a nearby hospital in case of any more serious health problems. In Tallinn,...
Society
Irene Ilves, the mother of former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, died on Tuesday aged 91. Irene Ilves was born on 6 January 1927. An Estonian refugee, she raised her family in New Jersey, on the US East Coast. She is survived by two sons, Andres Eerik and Toomas Hendrik, and four grandchildren, Juulia Kristiine, Luukas Kristjan, Kadri Keiu and Hans Hendrik, Mr Ilves wrote on social media on Wednesday, adding that she will be very missed by family and frie...