Rail passenger travel between Estonia and Russia ends (15)
In what was a sad day for many, the last train from Tallinn to Moscow departed on Sunday from the Baltic station in the center of Estonian capital.
GoRail, the Estonian-owned operator of passenger train service between Tallinn-Moscow and Tallinn-St Petersburg, announced in April that it would suspend the services.
The last train on Tallinn-St. Petersburg route had already departed a week earlier and with the last train to Moscow on Sunday, the rail passenger service between Estonia and Russia which had been running for 65 years, came to an end.
According to the manager of GoRail, Alar Pinsel, the reason for closure of the routes is significant decrease in number of tourists traveling from Russia to Estonia. "Being a private company that uses its own assets, GoRail cannot operate the routes based solely on ticket revenue," he said.
“A difficult economic and political situation in relations between Russia and the European Union has significantly affected the number of Russian tourists visiting Estonia. Drop in the exchange rate of ruble also makes travel expensive for Russian people. Without a doubt, the train connection is useful for Estonia as a whole. However, the routes were only generating financial loss for quite a long time,” he added.
Go Rail has been organizing international train passenger transport on the Tallinn-Moscow and Tallinn-St Petersburg routes since 1998. Up until 2013, the number of Russian tourists visiting Estonia grew steadily each year, with over 260,000 in 2012 alone. But since the crisis in Ukraine and Russia's economic woes, the number has been in steady decline and is approximately only half of what it was a year ago at the same time.
The last train was sent off with a small ceremony in which one person was dressed up as “Gena the Crocodile”, originally from a Soviet-era cartoon. The character was famous during the Soviet times for singing a song called “Blue Wagon”, while sitting on top of a train.