Officials Make U-Turn in Debate Over Small Town Impact of Rail Baltic ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

After a visit to Sweden last week, county officials are rethinking Rail Baltic, now saying the planned railroad should not bypass small rural towns.

Officials have so far reasoned that since current plans for Rail Baltic only provide for two stops in Estonia - in Tallinn and Pärnu - the line should stay away from other towns so as not to be a disturbance, reported ETV. But now officials presume that, further down the line, more stops could be added.

In addition to noise, skeptics have feared that the railroad would cut towns in half and divide communities.

However, after meeting Swedish officials who have fresh experience with the Bothnia Line, a railroad completed two years ago, decision-makers are now convinced otherwise. The Swedes initially had similar fears as the Estonians, but these proved to be unfounded, county officials said.

The governor of Pärnu County, Andres Metsoja, said Rail Baltic could become an important regional, not just international, stimulus.

"It will also help preserve and advance Estonian life in rural areas," Metsoja said.

The chief official in charge of development in Harju County, Joel Jesse, said: "We will definitely support adding regional transport to the route in the future."