Tallinn hopes to build harbour tram line by 2024 ({{commentsTotal}})

Centre envisions Tallinn's free public transport being extended to all Estonian residents, similar to the free public county bus lines elsewhere in the country.
Centre envisions Tallinn's free public transport being extended to all Estonian residents, similar to the free public county bus lines elsewhere in the country. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Tallinn is hoping that by 2024, a tram line will extend from Tartu Highway to Mere Avenue via Rävala Avenue and Laikmaa and Ahtri Streets. Rail Baltic Estonia is only just starting to apply for European funding for this project, however.

The City of Tallinn is hoping that by 2024, a tram line will extend from Tartu Highway to Mere Avenue via Rävala Avenue and Laikmaa and Ahtri Streets. Rail Baltic Estonia is only just starting to apply for European funding for this project, however.

French consulting firm Egis Rail S.A. on Thursday published its study on the linking of Tallinn's Old City Harbour and the future Rail Baltica terminal at Ülemiste. Consultant Benjamin Narce said that they had offered up a number of opportunities, three of which were selected for more in-depth analysis by the Rail Baltica team and its partners.

The first option centred around a tram line connecting the Old City Harbour to Baltic Station; the second, a rail link via underground tunnel; the third, a partially underground tram line.

Tallinn Deputy Mayor Andrei Novikov (Centre) highlighted as the cardinal value of the study the fact that the option was finally selected that best utilises the existing tram line.

"The tram line that essentially winds its way to Tartu Highway is part of the existing tram line," he explained. "From there, the tram line would continue along Rävala, until let's say the Radisson Hotel, where it would turn off onto Laikmaa. From there it would extend to Hobujaama and along Ahtri, Jõe and Laeva Streets to Mere Avenue. A ring of sorts would be created whose total length would be about 2.2km."

According to the deputy mayor, this would give a boost to both the overall development of the tram line as well as the new residents to live in the areas currently under development near the harbour.

The current model envisions a fully above-ground route. Mr Novikov noted that alternatives had also been considered that would have essentially turned the tram into an underground line, but these options would have cost some ten times more and significantly disrupted the cityscape for at least the duration of construction, and so these options were dropped from consideration.

"This will open up the existing bottleneck, which stretches from Hobujaama to Viru Ring," he continued. "This will open up Tallinn's tram network to an entire slew of opportunities. The development of tram lines have essentially hit a dead end, as it already isn't possible to add any more trams to the existing tram network, as during peak hours they end up in a jam between Hobujaama and Viru Ring."

The new tram line should be completed by 2024, the deputy mayor said.

Tram development important to Rail Baltica

Commenting on the timeframe for the project at the publishing of the survey, Rail Baltica project coordinator Kristjan Kaunissaare said that the sooner, the better, as the development of the capital city's tram network is of significant importance to both the planned Rail Baltica railway project as well as Tallinn residents.

"On the subject of money, the honest answer is that we do not currently have the money for this, but we plan to apply at the first opportunity for funding from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), which is also funding the Rail Baltica project, as well as keep our eyes peeled for other possible sources of funding," Mr Kaunissaar said. "Relatively speaking, there are many such opportunities."

He also highlighted that the EU's next budgetary period includes more ambitious goals for the development of rail and public transport in particular, and so it can be considered very likely that a new tram line will be built in the capital city.

Mr Novikov added that as far as co-financing by the City of Tallinn is concerned, that will definitely not be an obstacle.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla



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