Border control on trains coming from Russia could move to Ülemiste terminal

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"Light Stream", the winning entry in the Ülemiste rail terminal design competition. Source: Zaha Hadid Architects and Esplan OÜ

The state is planning to increase the capacity and traffic intensity of trains between Tallinn and Narva, but a time-consuming border control on the Russian border is the biggest hurdle, which the interior ministry has offered to take to to the final station - the planned Rail Baltic Ülemiste terminal.

The state is planning to invest in speeding up the railway connection between Tallinn and Narva in upcoming years. The railway section will be electrified, which will decrease the time taken when travelling between the two cities and once international travel is opened, the state will also add additional trains to the route.

At times of high demand, trains from Tallinn and Moscow would arrive in Narva at the same time, servicing both trains however is not allowed based on Schengen border requirements. Travelers crossing the foreign border must not be in contact with domestic passengers, the same principle is imposed when leaving the country.

International trains have so far stopped for a 45-minute border control at the Narva border checkpoint. The interior ministry has offered an option of checking travelers on the train, while it is moving. The Police and Border Guard Board is opposed to the idea as they do not consider it reasonable due to the logistics of having to transport the inspectors from Jõhvi or Tapa back to Narva.

Also, the border checks are conducted by the same officials that have to inspect border crossings on the road, leaving less people in the border checkpoint, which would not help with crossings in general.

As another option, the ministry said passengers could instead be checked at the final stop - the Rail Baltic Ülemiste terminal - which is planned to reach completion by the end of 2025. In this case, the border checkpoint in Narva would only have to inspect people getting on and off the train in Narva.

Stops in Jõhvi and Tapa would then have to be replaced with domestic passenger transport to either Narva or Tallinn.

Currently, there is an area planned at the Ülemiste terminal project for a temporary border control checkpoint, but to inspect regular routes, the possibility of separating passengers has to be created, along with other conditions for a permanent border crossing checkpoint.

Taking border checks to Ülemiste would ultimately lessen the need for a new platform in Narva, which according to the interior ministry, would not speed up railway traffic anyway.

First place, "Light Stream." Source: Zaha Hadid Architects and Esplan OÜ

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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