This week, Estonian rail carrier Elron provided the first glimpse of the new passenger trains, which are set to be used in Estonia from early 2025. The new trains, which are being built in the Czech Republic, will have more passenger seats, more spaces for bicycles and include onboard catering services.
The new passenger trains were presented by Elron at the Škoda factory in Ostrava, Czech Republic, where they are being built. ERR was given the opportunity to take a look at the trains and compare them with those currently in use in Estonia. The new trains contain more seats and there are power sockets available next to each one. The first class section is also separated from other parts of the train by closable doors.
According to Lauri Betlem, chair of the Elron's management board, there are also more changes to come.
"In standard class you will be able to purchase a guaranteed seat - you won't have to worry about whether or not you can sit down, because you can buy a guaranteed seat in advance. There will be more places for bikes and it will be more convenient to take them on the train. You won't have to hang them on the wall, because the bike rack will be on the floor. We also want to have a coffee machine and the possibility to sell fresh triangular sandwiches on board," said Betlem.
The new trains will be able to transport more passengers than the previous Stadler ones. Currently, the longest trains on the network have 214 regular seats plus 10 spaces, which are accessible for wheelchairs. The new long-distance trains however, we have 236 regular seats and 15 wheelchair-accessible spaces.
Th number of seats on commuter trains will go up to 263, which is one more than the long-distance trains currently in use. The number of wheelchair spaces on trains will also increase, from 10 to 18.
It is important to mention that the examples mentioned concern the longest, four-carriage trains. However, there are also shorter trains running on the line, which have two or three carriages. The new Skoda trains will only come in two different sizes.
But when will the trains start running on Estonian tracks?
"The first six trains are expected to be on the line from the beginning of 2025 and will serve the Tallinn and Tartu routes. After that, the next trains that will come to us are scheduled to run between Tallinn and Narva. However, at the same time as the new trains into service, we will also be able to use the existing Stadlers on the Viljandi route, for example. In fact, this will give us the opportunity to put together a much better timetable. [We will] add in more departures, while at the same time, the connection speeds with the new trains will increase," said Betlem.
The new trains will first be tested on the route from Ostrava to Pilsen. However, they will certainly not be able to travel from there to Estonia by themselves. According to Martin Bednarz, director of Škoda's Ostrava factory, old tsarist-era railway lines mean that will not be possible.
"Getting the trains to their destination is difficult because of the war in Ukraine. It will not be possible to complete the trains in the Czech Republic and Slovakia as was originally planned. We have to deliver the completed wagons on trucks to Latvia and from there they will go on to Estonia. We will test them on site. This is the most challenging part of the project," said Bednarz.
Editor: Michael Cole