The Estonian state is set to allocate around €40 million of EU funds to the City of Tallinn to support the construction and development of new tram lines in the capital. €36 million has also been earmarked for the construction of cycle paths in Tallinn, Tartu and Pärnu.
According to the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the €40 million may be used to develop services on the Järve-Tondi, Tehnika-Liivalaia, Pelguranna tram lines, or others in the capital.
There is also the possibility of the current tram lines being extended to reach some of Tallinn's neighboring districts, the ministry added.
A study commissioned by the City of Tallinn found, that of the possible new tram lines being considered, the one with the most potential is the Tehnika (Kristiine) to Liivalaia line. The city would also prefer to focus on extending the Tondi line out to Järve, as well as work on the Pelgulinna line.
Planning work is currently underway for the renovation of both Liivalaia tänav and Suur-Ameerika tänav. This will need to be completed before decisions can be made regarding if and when the Liivalaia-Tehnika tram will begin operating there.
€16 million is also set to be provided to develop hubs for different forms of public transport.
The funding could, for example, be used for the creation of a hub, which includes multimodal interchanges and concentrates different modes of transport in a single location in the capital. The amount of support available is expected to be sufficient to either construct one large transport hub or several smaller ones.
The City of Tallinn is already planning to create a hub of this kind near the Kristiine Center, for instance.
Svet: You certainly can't build three lines for that money
It is not yet clear which tram lines Tallinn will choose to develop. However according to deputy mayor Vladimir Svet (Center), €40 million will definitely not be enough to build all three
"Discussions are ongoing and no decision has been made on the specific lines. It is clear that it is impossible to build three new lines to their full extent, including all the necessary infrastructure for €40 million. The exact cost of construction can be discussed once the choice has been made and the plans are in place. It is also understandable that construction prices may increase further in the coming years, which sets certain limits," he said.
According to Svet, for each of the three tram lines, there are land-use or construction issues that need further analysis and which will potentially have a major impact on the cost of building them.
"A separate factor is, that this measure does not support the purchase of rolling stock - the new line would have to run new trams, and this is also an investment with a high budgetary impact," said the deputy mayor.
Three cities to receive equal funding for cycle paths
€36 million in funding, which has been earmarked for the promotion of cycling, will be split equally between Tallinn, Tartu and Pärnu. According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, the money will be given to projects that aim to develop integrated and safe cycle path networks.
Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) previously argued, that given the size of the capital, Tallinn should receive more in state funding to construct cycle paths, than Tartu and Pärnu as both are much smaller cities.
In addition to cycle paths, funding will also be given for other work related to the development of infrastructure in the three cities, including cycle parks, tire pumping services, puncture repair stations and areas for cyclists to rest.
Municipalities will receive funding from the program, which is co-financed by the European Union, for the development of bicycle and tram services and public transport hubs.
According to the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, decisions regarding the allocation of funds depend on the recommendations of independent mobility experts and project proposals being approved.
The program will provide funding for suitable projects operating between January 1, 2022 and October 31, 2029.
In addition to Tallinn, Tartu and Pärnu, municipalities surrounding the three cities are eligible to apply for support as urban partners.
Editor: Michael Cole