The government wants all passenger trains and the lion's share of freight trains to run electrically by 2028. This means large-scale investment in railroad infrastructure, and the phasing-out of Elron's diesel trains by that year.
The electrification of Estonia's railroads is part of an infrastructure investment program of more than €1 billion, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As a share in this project, the planned construction of the required electricity lines and other infrastructure will cost up to €400 million, economic affairs minister Taavi Aas (Centre) told ERR.
"This will of course also include other things, for example the change of the signalling system, but basically cost €300 to 380 million," Aas said.
The government's decision is prompted by the EU's climate goals, and the fact that Estonia will need to reduce its emissions outside the oil shale sector by 13 percent. The transport, farming, and other industrial sectors are currently emitting over 6 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, an amount to be reduced to 5.5 million tons by 2030.
If Estonia doesn't achieve this goal, it will have to increase its quota purchases by a rather painful amount by that time.
Minister of the Environment Rene Kokk (EKRE) told ERR that a whole range of other projects are currently being planned to move towards halving Estonia's emissions.
To achieve this goal, public transport needs to be brought over to renewable energies, for example by supplying it with biofuels. Also planned are further incentives for people to change to electric cars, Kokk said.
All of the planned investments taken together, Estonia is looking at roughly €1 billion to be spent on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Part of the projects to achieve the country's climate aims is also Rail Baltica, to be realized only on the condition that it is generously cross-funded by the European Union, at 85 percent of total costs.
Aas said that it is currently still too early to talk about all of the planned measures in detail. "We still need to weigh [different options] and negotiate, but I think Estonia will manage in the end," Aas said.
Editor: Dario Cavegn