A new development strategy for Ida-Viru County was introduced in Narva on Tuesday. Whether or not it will succeed to a large extent depends on quick and state-of-the-art transport connections—and there aren't many.
ERR's Narva correspondent, Jüri Nikolajev, reported on Tuesday that in the assessment of Ida-Viru County's local councils, more and better connections to Tallinn as well as to St Petersburg and Finland are needed to lastingly improve the county's economic situation as well as business activity in the area.
"If we want to be a part of the Baltic Sea's most promising economic area, we need to connect ourselves very well to those regions," Hardi Murula, a development specialist with Ida-Viru County's local councils, said.
The current situation is bleak. There are just four trains a day from Tallinn to Narva, while there are 11 to Tartu. There is one train from Tallinn to St Petersburg a day, and the 400-km journey takes seven hours. A modern train, eg of the kind that connects Finland with the Russian metropolis on the Gulf, would be able to cut this time in half.
While a majority of the politicians attending yesterday's event are quite happy to promise four-lane motorways and faster train connections to locals, they are typically only talking about connections between Narva and Tallinn, not St Petersburg.
"We can invest in those roads and connections that are under our control," Eerik-Niiles Kross (Reform) told ERR. "How our relations with Russia develop doesn't depend on Ida-Viru County to any great extent. But we could build a bridge in Narva, and by ourselves, why not, if Russia doesn't find the funds needed," he added.
Estonia 200, one of the newcomers in the current race for Riigikogu mandates, thinks an agreement could be reached with Russia to build a new bridge already within the next four-year legislative term.
"We need to be friends with our neighbours, within reasons anyway," Estonia 200 member Jana Pavlenkova said. "Political bickering won't put a stop to people and goods moving across the border, because it's extremely important to us that we can move. We are a small country, we need to think internationally," she added.
Put into practice in its current shape, the new development strategy aims to reduce journey time on the Tallinn-Narva and Narva-St Petersburg lines to an hour each.
Editor: Dario Cavegn