The state-owned rail passenger service operator Elron was fined 8,800 euros for schedule disruptions and late trains in the first four months of the year, with later problems still under investigation and expected to bring new fines.
According to Elron, five to six disruptions occur each month. The latest came on Friday, when 40 people were forced to wait for a replacement bus at a station between Tallinn and Pärnu. That bus never materialized and passengers had to call for taxis, which Elron said it will reimburse, Eesti Päevaleht reported.
The Ministry of Economy, which owns the company, and also monitors disruptions in service, said six trains, which did not complete a journey in February were also not replaced by a bus. Sixteen trains were at least 16 minutes late, in the worst case it was 118 minutes. The statistics for March and April did improve, however.
Elron CEO Andrus Ossip told ETV that the fatal accident in Raasiku in April, when a truck rammed a train and killed two people, is part of the reason for the disruptions, as it left the company short one train, adding up to 5 percent of all Elron train seats. The reliability of the diesel trains has also been lower than hoped, he said.
Elron board member Riho Seppar told Delfi the brand new Stadler trains had a construction fault, and power inverters have had to be swapped out. When a power inverter fails, the engine stops dead. Stadler has so far replaced five power inverters.
The trains had other problems too, partly caused by the low quality of the tracks. Elron has not had to pay for the repairs as they fall under the purchase guarantee, but solutions have taken time as Stadler has first conducted investigations into the failures.
He added that rail passenger numbers have increased by 50 percent in a year and there are 200 trips made each day.
Elron took over intercity routes from Edelaraudtee on January 1, putting into service brand new trains.