State railway manager promises to improve and tidy up railway platforms
State railway infrastructure manager Eesti Raudtee promises to tidy up train stops, which have largely not seen any improvement from being constructed 12 years ago. The company said there will be no pavilions, however, and that passengers will not be away from the wind and rain.
Train stops in Tallinn were reconstructed before the arrival of Elron's Stadler trains to match the floor and platform heights. After they were constructed, passengers began to complain about there not being anywhere to hide from the wind and rain, however. Eesti Raudtee responded by setting up some plexiglass walls and the company now told ERR that the stops may look bad because people keep drawing on the plexiglass walls.
"[The plexiglass] is actually maintained, but fighting graffiti is like fighting windmills. Graffiti will be done today, it will be cleaned tomorrow and graffiti will be back there the day after," Eesti Raudtee technical director Arvo Šmiltinš said.
The railway manager also noted that it is now time to restore the platforms. Last year, Eesti Raudtee spent €400,000 to restore and improve railway platforms in southern Estonia with the restoration queue soon to reach Tallinn. While old train stops can be hard to look at, passengers see being out in the elements as an even greater issue.
"If there is wind, it goes right through you or you are completely wet if it rains. It is not comfortable waiting for trains," said Iris, a passenger waiting for a train in Tondi. She said walls are the main thing missing from the train stops.
Eesti Raudtee said placing down pavilions is not possible, because there is only 50 cm of space in the middle of platforms. "These building widths stem from requirements, which are standardized for railway platforms. These are in turn based on free passage requirements," Šmiltinš said.
The Eesti Raudtee technical director said passengers have not been left completely to the weather, as there is both a roof and a partition. "To provide protection from wind and rain, as much as it can be done using the 50 cm left on the platform," he said.
While most of the train stops in Estonia are managed by Eesti Raudtee, the Viljandi and Pärnu direction is managed by rail operator Edelaraudtee.
Board member Rain Kaarjas said there are several nuances in pavilion placement. "We have always followed the logic that we do not see a section in the standard that would directly prohibit us from constructing a pavilion," he said, adding that the company has tried to construct a pavilion if there is not already a waiting room.
He also noted that the gaps between railways in Estonia are too narrow. The minimum width of railway platforms is 4 m, making it impossible to place down a pavilion. At the same time, Kaarjas pointed to the Liiva station in Tallinn, where a pavilion was constructed on a platform 4.8 m in width.
Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications railway infrastructure director Indrek Laineveer said pavilion placement is most commonly impeded by narrow platforms. Widening them and the areas between railways would require additional resources, but the ministry official said there have been other measures to make life more comfortable for passengers.
"In particular, the train stop connection measures, which added additional access to other modes of transport for 31 stops," Laineveer said.
The trains can also be followed in real-time on Elron's homepage. "People, do not have to arrive at stops as early," the ministry official noted.
Arvo Šmiltinš also noted that people do not have to spend too much time on platforms, as the punctuality of train traffic exceeds 99 percent. "People usually arrive right before the train arrives. That is not a place for groups to hang out," the Eesti Raudtee official noted.
There are 132 railway platforms in Estonia, there were 250 cases of vandalism registered last year.
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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste