Elron Addresses Criticisms After First Week of New Train Service (3)
Elron, the state company that provides intercity passenger rail service, says ticket sales are the area that has suffered the most glitches since it took over the service from Edelaraudtee on January 1, and that it is working to alleviate problems and add additional trains.
Due to website problems, online ticket sales were down for the first few days of January. This weekend there were also problems with on-board card payment systems, mainly due to holes in wireless coverage, newspapers reported.
A Rapla-Tallinn train was also canceled on January 2 - a one-off problem that is now resolved, the company said.
Some discontent has been voiced by commuters on the Tartu-Tallinn route and routes from towns in northern Estonia, such as Rapla, to Tallinn, with passengers complaining about crowded trains, sometimes with standing room only.
At a press conference today, managing director Andrus Ossip said statistics showed that 25 percent of trains were standing-room-only. He said the crowded conditions have mainly occurred during rush hour and would be addressed by adding additional departures and cars, although, he said, the solution of adding a whole extra train was often not feasible.
To the company's credit, it said, Narva was now served by three trains a day rather than the previous situation of one a day, which he called "unacceptable."
Overall, total kilometers covered would increase by 50 percent from last year and number of passengers would be up by 25 percent this year, he said.
Elron currently has 18 electric trains and 13 diesel trains, all of them new and in good technical condition, Ossip said.
Compared with its predecessor on the Tartu-Tallinn line, Edelaraudtee, Elron also offers free WiFi in all wagons, but currently has no dining car. Food service could be added later at the expense of six seats per train, the company says, noting that it also has to budget in space for prams and bicycles (which continue to ride for free). The ticket price between the cities is 10 euros, about the same as the former second-class ticket on Edelaraudtee. There is no first class compartment. Two trains arrive in Tallinn from Tartu before 9:00.