Estonia sets aside 300,000 euros for Tartu-Rīga rail route – reports

Estonian authorities have set aside cash with a view to supporting the revival of a rail service between Estonia's second-largest city, Tartu, and the Latvian capital Rīga, reports ERR News.

Citing in turn a report from the Postimees newspaper, ERR News says €300,000 has been allocated for the launch of the long-discussed Tartu-Riga train connection next year by the Ministry of Climate in next year's budget, to coincide with Tartu's year as a European Capital of Culture in 2024.

"It is not yet known when the line could open and the details will be decided by train operator Elron," said ERR News.

"The longer-term plan is to have a more permanent connection between Tartu and Riga, but right now we can only talk about next year," Estonian Climate Minister Kristen Michal said.

Elron CEO Lauri Betlem said the company is investigating how it would be possible to launch the link. This includes certifying Estonia's trains and drivers on Latvian railways.

"The Latvian authorities have been contacted to start the process and consultations are ongoing regarding the possibility of the line," said Betlem.

Mayor of Tartu Urmas Klaas said he would like to see the connection open in the summer at the start of the tourist season and that the journey time between the two cities should be less than 3.5 hours.

A preliminary plan is also being discussed about an onward link to Vilnius and Šiauliai in Lithuania.

If the Rīga-Tartu connection does go ahead, it would likely also benefit several other Latvian towns and cities along the line including Sigulda, Cēsis, Valmiera and Valka.

As LSM recently reported, Tartu hopes to attract large numbers of Latvians to its cultural events next year and even has joint events planned in Valka-Valga and Valmiera, but at the time of the Tartu 2024 launch the status of the Rīga-Tartu rail link remained unresolved.

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