No rail extension to Haapsalu budgeted for at present

Rail construction on the Riisipere-Turba line.
Rail construction on the Riisipere-Turba line. Source: Neeme Sihv

No provision has been made in the state budget strategy for a rail link to the western Estonian town of Haapsalu, according to Minister of Economic Affairs Taavi Aas (Centre).

The proposed rail link had been presented to the government in May by Jaanus Karilaid (Centre), chair of the Haapsalu railway support group at the Riigikogu, and Haapsalu mayor Urmas Sukles.

"The government discussed your proposal during the drafting of the country's budget strategy, but unfortunately no funds are available to implement it at the moment," wrote Taavi Aas to Karilaid and Sukles, in a letter obtained by ERR's online news in Estonian.

"We hope that this issue may be reversed in the autumn,  if a revised economic forecast comes about, or next year, when preparing the state's new budget strategy," Aas continued.

Karilaid and Sukles propsed extending the reconstruction of Haapsalu railway from Turba, about 50 km east of Haapsalu, to Rohuküla, just to the west, in which would include a two-way electric line with the necessary infrastructure, and a road crossing at the village of Ellamaa.

Construction on the stretch from Riisipere, about equidistant between Tallinn and Haapsalu, and Turba, is currently under way, and was valued at €3.4 million at the end of 2018, as reported on ERR News. It had not been clear until the recent decision whether the line would extend beyond Turba.

Construction of the Haapsalu extension was estimated at €65 million.

"[Estonian rail company] Eesti Raudtee at present has no information on the next construction stages, but if the decision is to be made, we are ready to go ahead," Eesti Raudtee construction services Riho Vjatkin told ERR last week.

Haapsalu has a historic rail station building, which is open to the public and dates back to the town's popularity as a resort towards the end of the Tsarist era. It ceased functioning as an active station in 1995.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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