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Simson on Haapsalu rail link: We'll put pressure on the next government

Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson (Center).
Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson (Center). Source: (Postimees/Scanpix)

Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Kadri Simson (Center) confirmed that the construction of the first stage of the Haapsalu rail link will put pressure on the next Estonian government.

The government on Thursday decided to allocate €8 million for the construction of the first stage of a rail link between Tallinn and Haapsalu, stretching from Riisipere to Turba. No funding was allocated for the remainder of the project, however.

"I of course personally believe that this beginning would make no sense if we didn't think that the railway would be built all the way to Haapsalu in the next period," Simson said on ETV's morning news show "Terevisioon" on Friday.

She acknowledged that the next government would be the one to have to make further decisions. Asked whether the construction of the Riisipere-Turba section of the railway wouldn't put future decision-makers under pressure, Simson aknowledged that indeed it will.

"We are putting pressure on the next decision-makers and I believe that that is a sensible decision," she explained.

The investment plan revealed on Thursday did not include the Pärnu-Lelle section of railway which Simson herself had proposed. According to her, the Cabinet could not reach a consesus on the matter.

If the railway is not renovated, however, the existing rail connection between Tallinn and Pärnu will soon have to be shut down.

Edelaraudtee offer would be akin to paying in installments

Edelaraudtee has made clear that it is prepared to renovate the Pärnu-Lelle section of railway using its own funds on condition that the state guarantees the railway operator a ten-year contract on the section. According to Simson, however, this option may be even more expenive for the state.

"A ten-year contract has not yet been discussed, but in some ways this ten-year contract would definitely be like buying something with a payment plan, which is, as we know as private consumers, more expensive than just paying for the renovation up front," she noted.

The Estonian government endorsed on Thursday a list of projects to receive an additional €135 million in infrastructure funding over the next three years.

Investments funding will be directed primarily to projects improving connections between Tallinn-Tartu, Tallinn-Pärnu and Tallinn-Narva, including €44 million, or nearly one-third of available funds, earmarked for improving Tallinn-Pärnu Highway and €32 million for projects allowing for increased speeds on Tallinn-Tartu and Tallinn-Narva Highways.

€20 million has been allotted for Pärnu Airport while Hiiumaa's Kärdla Airport will receive an additional €1 million.

€15 million each will also be directed to the widening of Tallinn-Narva Highway to four lanes between Aaspere and Haljala and a municipal transit roads program.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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