The state-owned rail passenger service provider Elron has handed a larger-than expected bill to Tallinn City Council for offering free transport to its residents in the city's borders, opening up a war of words between the two parties.
Tallinn Deputy Mayor Taavi Aas told Postimees that if the city does not agree to the new fee, the residents will suffer and the state will be able to point fingers at Tallinn for breaking promises on free rail transport in the city, adding that rail cargo volumes have dropped and Elron must find funds to pay a larger share of the rail network upkeep costs.
Elron CEO Andrus Ossip said that Tallinn has long known about increasing passenger numbers, and the contract does not have a fixed sum, with the cost dependent on the number of Tallinn residents riding trains for free. Ossip added that the number of Tallinn residents taking the train has increased by nearly five-fold and it is logical that others should not pay for Tallinn's free transport initiative.
The city agreed to pay 375,000 euros per year to Elron for allowing Tallinn residents to take the train free inside the city's borders, with that figure set to be revised if more Tallinn residents take up the offer.