Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas (Centre) announced on Thursday that he has given state-owned train operator Elron the order to draw up procurement documents for the purchase of four new trains, with an option to buy two more.
Aas said in a press release on Thursday that this is the first step towards expanding Elron's rolling stock. The company as well as the government recently faced criticism because of serious capacity bottlenecks on Elon's lines.
"After working out the technical specifics, Elron will also have to align them with the ministry. Once that is taken care of, a public tender can be announced," the minister said.
According to conditions already outlined in the issue, the new trains will have to be able to beyond regular passengers also accommodate pushchairs, bikes, and disabled passengers' wheelchairs to a greater extent than is currently the case.
The discussion surrounding Elron gained in urgency earlier this summer, when the company announced a reduction of its capacity to carry passengers with bikes.
The additional trains will make it possible to add trips on the Tartu, Narva and Viljandi routes, Aas added.
The government decided already last week to push for the purchase of additional rolling stock, deciding on four hybrid diesel-electric trains as part of a deal including another two electric trains in case the Haapsalu route is rebuilt.
At current, there is no cost estimate. Minister Aas previously said that the trains may be funded partially out of the selling of CO2 quotas.
Over the last five years, the popularity of passenger trains in Estonia has increased substantially, with passenger numbers up more than 30%. The frequency of trips between Estonia's bigger cities has more than doubled.
Editor: Dario Cavegn