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Haapsalu rail extension final design ready, awaits state funding

One of Elron's signature orange trains at the Turba stop.
One of Elron's signature orange trains at the Turba stop. Source: Juhan Hepner / ERR

While designs are in place for a rail extension to the western Estonian town of Haapsalu, the government has yet to allocate the estimated €115 million in funds for construction to start.

As a resort town, Haapsalu was once linked to Tallinn and elsewhere by rail, and its restored train station remains a local attraction. However, the actual rail link fell into abeyance in the 1990s.

In recent years, work started on a new extension between Tallinn and Haapsalu, around 100 kilometers distance, and so far this extension has reached as far as the village of Turba, Harju County (roughly the halfway stage).

The section from Turba to the final destination, at Rohuküla, the location of the ferry port linking the mainland to Hiiumaa, has been designed but has not progressed beyond that point, yet. Now the project design is ready, it is hoped that work can start.

Location of Rohiküla, Haapsalu, Risti, Turba and Riisipere, in Western Estonia. The plan is for all these settlements to be linked to the capital via a rail extension. Source: Google Maps

Rein Riisalu, director of the Lääne County rail program, said: "Construction money is a decision for the government."

"The last time round, the politicians had said 'if there is no project, what construction money are we talking about?' But now, the project is ready. We can say that we can move on to the next round," Riisalu went on.

A cross-party Haapsalu rail support group has also been formed at the Riigikogu, Riisalu said.

Chaired by Reili Rand (SDE), the Lääne County group has, via her, communicated with Minister of Climate Kristen Michal (Reform), Minister of Regional and Rural affairs (SDE) and Minister of Finance Mart Võrklaev (Reform).

"So in that sense, work ongoing," Riisalu added.

Riisalu also noted that the current state budget, while it incorporates CO2 emissions funds, does not hinder the construction of an electrified rail line.

State rail-track operator Eesti Raudtee (Estonian Railways) could announce construction tenders as early as this year, he added.

The construction permit for the Rohuküla-Haapsalu section is also being processed, Riisalu said.

The next stage will be purchasing the required land from private ownership, after which actual construction can start.

Between Risti and Rohuküla there are "quite a lot" of stretches that will go over land currently in private ownership, and require sale negotiations.

"The next step is to start building the line, either in one stretch or in segments," Riisalu added.

The rail development plan, Riisalu said, has €115 million allocated to it, adding this sum roughly tallies with how much the project is likely to ultimately cost.

The planned electrified line would allow top speeds of up to 160 kph as far as Haapsalu, while the final stretch between Haapsalu and Rohuküla would see a maximum speed of 120 kph in place.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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