It is necessary to establish a regular passenger train connection between Tartu and Latvian capital Riga and, Tartu Mayor Urmas Klaas said on Tuesday. This should be discussed by both governments, he added.
"Transport connections in the direction of Tallinn will become much better by 2024: the journey time between Tartu and Tallinn will be 1.35 hours and new trains will start running on the electrified railway. At the same time, there will be a real opportunity to establish the Riga-Tartu train connection, but this requires close cooperation between the Estonian and Latvian governments," Klaas said, adding that the harmonization of Latvian and Estonian train timetables should start immediately.
Kaido Zimmermann, chairman of the management board of state-owned railway infrastructure company Estonian Railways, said it would be possible to create a connection between the two cities in 2024 at the latest.
Klaas said access to Tartu and South Estonia will become especially important in 2024, because Tartu, together with 19 municipalities of South Estonia, will hold the title of European Capital of Culture.
"Being the European Capital of Culture will bring a lot of people to Tartu, and therefore it is necessary to work to ensure that Tartu and South Estonia are connected to the world by fast and safe air, road and rail transport," the mayor said.
The Connecting Europe Express train of the European Year of Rail stopped at Tartu railway station on Tuesday, which, among other things, drew attention to the need for a train connection between Tartu and Riga.
After stopping in Tartu, the train headed to Valka, from where it will travel on to Latvia and Lithuania.
Editor: Helen Wright