Economy Minister Juhan Parts was asked by ETV anchorwoman Monika Tamla for his comments on Elron's problems providing service at accustomed levels on the commuter and intercity lines served by new Swiss-made trains.
Tamla: This whole train saga is reminiscent for me of Soviet-era grand openings. The ribbon is cut and on the evening of the first day, parts are already falling off. How is this possible in today's Estonia?
Parts: It's not as bad as Soviet times. On the contrary, it's an area where Soviet legacy still lived on but where it's now behind us for good.
In 2007, it was still an open question whether Estonian passenger train travel had any future at all, considering the infrastructure, say, in the Viljandi or Valga area. It was a difficult choice to make. But today what we are seeing is the last stage - new diesel trains will serve not just Tallinn but everywhere.
True, the trains were Soviet-era, but the issue was prepared for so long in advance, and now that the trains were ready, there have been so many problems.
There is no justification for it. I don't want to look for any. I'm quite cross about it myself.
But what happened? The preparations were made by people who weren't the sharpest pencils or what?
We'll see. No, it doesn't mean that. People did work hard and enthusiastically. If we're talking about the information system glitches, they do happen one way or another. What is most serious and what is resolvable in a short time is rush hour service. That is the most important.
How will it be solved? You've said that the wagons can be coupled and uncoupled like Lego blocks. Why was this not done? And are there enough train cars right now?
[...] There was talk of the rest of the trains coming in July. But they are actually coming in a few at a time already now. Two in February. Stadler has been following the story and the negative reactions and they are doing everything they can for all the trains to be here by late May.
How long will the transition period last? Will people be able to go to the station next week or next month and know they don't have to stand up on a train the whole way?
I'm following it personally, because people's dissatisfaction is something that I find irritating, and [the dissatisfaction] is justified, especially the rush-hour problems. There have been some miscues in planning, that is for sure. How long? The company has promised a week or two and everything that is needed will be in operation. What will remain to be solved is certain rush-hour segments, like Friday evening, during which buses, which are completely private-sector, do not manage to serve everyone either.