The Estonian government at its Thursday Cabinet meeting decided to announce a public procurement for the purchase of four hybrid trains for Eesti Liinirongid AS, the Estonian state-owned operator of passenger trains operating under the Elron brand, with the option to buy an additional two electric trains.
"This option concerns the issue of if, when and how the railway to Haapsalu will come," Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas (Centre) said at Thursday's government press conference. This is why these trains include an option, he noted, adding that the opportunity to cover this section of railway with rolling stock has been granted.
"We all know that our trains are under an extreme burden, and there is no other solution to this problem than the acquisition of additional rolling stock," he said.
The minister has previously stated that the new trains may be purchased with money received from the sale of carbon dioxide quotas.
The new hybrid trains will mean additional departures on Elron's Tartu, Narva and Viljandi routes. The total cost of the new trains will be determined in the course of the procurement.
The state is planning on purchasing hybrid trains that both have a diesel engine as well as can be connected to an electric power system, and have lower energy and maintenance costs than diesel trains.
According to Elron CEO Merike Saks, the new trains could enter into operation in two to three years at the earliest.
The number of rail passengers in Estonia has increased by over one third over the last five years. With the increase in passenger demand, rail traffic between major cities has more than doubled.
Editor: Aili Vahtla