Train Prices to Rise, Operator Seeks Higher Subsidy ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

The state's passenger train operator, Elektriraudtee, plans to both increase ticket prices and seek an additional 1.5 to 2 million euros in subsidies next year, in order to implement more regular schedules and to compensate rising railroad usage fees.

Elektriraudtee said ticket prices will rise next year to the same level as bus tickets but will also be determined by passenger numbers. Currently, the standard ticket from Tallinn to Tartu costs 10.80 euros by bus and 9 euros by train; Tallinn-Pärnu tickets costs 8.40 euros and 5.50 euros respectively.

The operator has also put in a request for more government aid, citing more regular travel and rising infrastructure fees. Last year, the state budgeted a combined 20.1 million euros in subsidies for the operation of electric and diesel passenger trains.

Elektriraudtee recently began operating the brand new government-purchased trains. In an effort to improve the quality of train transport in Estonia, the company plans to increase the number of trips in its daily schedule, including to destinations such as Tartu, Pärnu, Rapla and Narva.

Electric trains will make the switch to new schedules before the year's end, with the longer-distance diesel trains following in April 2014. Earlier this month, Elektriraudtee signed a capacity agreement for 2014–2017 with the Ministry of Economic Affairs, which hopes to increase passenger numbers by half.

Meanwhile, the ministry is negotiating the extent of penalties that are to be paid to Edelaraudtee for the early termination of its contract as the current operator of the diesel trains. The contract was supposed to be effective through 2014, but the government decided that Elektriraudtee will take over at the beginning of the year.