Tallinn-Pärnu railway line to be closed permanently in December

Tallinn-Pärnu train at Lelle Station.
Tallinn-Pärnu train at Lelle Station. Source: (Postimees/Scanpix)

Starting 9 December, the Tallinn-Pärnu railway line will be interrupted. Train traffic will be back in operation only once the Rail Baltica line is finished and becomes operational in 2026. In the meantime, travellers will have to change to buses in Rapla and Lelle.

The state has decided not to invest any more money in the maintenance of the Tallinn-Pärnu railway line. According to statements made by operator Edelaraudtee some 18 months ago, €17 million would have to be invested to maintain a train connection between the two cities, as some 10,000 sleepers needed replacing, and even then the expected top speed on the old tracks dating back to the Soviet era would be no more than 80 km/h.

The line will be closed on 9 December. Starting that day, travellers to Pärnu will have to change to buses in Rapla and Lelle, which become the line's new terminal stations.

Despite the loss of the railway connection, life for commuters will actually get easier, not harder, ERR's Aktuaalne kaamera newscast reported.

"While in autumn and winter there were two trains a day, the buses now go three times a day," Andrus Kärpuk of Pärnu's transport centre told ERR. "In addition to that, the morning bus will leave earlier, and the train get back into Tallinn one hour earlier as well. This means that people from Pärnu can be in Tallinn as early as 8.35 where it used to be 9.30," Kärpuk added.

Other improvements include where commuters get on and off. For example, in Tori as well as in Sindi the bus stops a lot closer to the village than where the train stations are located. People travelling in either direction from the town of Vändra used to have to get to the nearby stations in Viluvere or Eidapere before they could get on the train, now the bus will stop at the bus station in the middle of town.

The same applies for Tootsi, where the railway station is located 2 km away from the village. Where people had to stand around and wait for the train at a freezing cold and windy railway station, they can now spend that time moving towards their destination on a well-heated bus, a local official said.

According to Kärpuk, the bus schedule isn't yet final, and there might still be changes.

The information portal of Rail Baltica states that the line is expected to be completed by 2025, and that testing on its tracks will start shortly after. The new railway line is currently be expected to become operational in 2026.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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