Rīga-Tartu train plans delayed until October

Estonia and Latvia have agreed on resuming train services between Tartu and Riga, and trains could start running in October, as Latvian train operator “Pasažieru Vilciens” (PV) acting Chairman Raitis Nešpors told Latvian Radio in an interview on March 12.

The PV representative said that one of the obstacles that has prevented the Latvian carrier from introducing this route is the lack of rolling stock, so it has been agreed that Estonian rolling stock and Latvian personnel will be used on this route.

"The goal now is […] early October. Estonia will initially fund this transport,” Nešpors said.

Estonia has yet to certify a train for use in Latvia before opening the connection.

Confirmation of the delay will come as a disappointment to Latvians who had hoped to hop aboard a train to attend events linked to Tartu's year as a European Capital of Culture. The Capital of Culture program runs until the end of the year, but most of the larger events are concentrated in the middle of the year when weather conditions are more reliable. 

It has already been reported by LSM that due to various obstacles the resolution of which takes time, the introduction of the route will not come earlier than autumn.

The possibility of restarting a direct train link between the Latvian capital and Estonia's second city has been tossed around for years, but in recent months has seemed to gain some added urgency given Tartu's desire to attract large numbers of Latvians to the festivities.

Now festival-goers will have no option but to use road rather than rail, unless they want to take the infrequent train service from Rīga to Valga and then change trains in Estonia for an onward ticket to Tartu – a trip which in total takes around 4 and a half hours (not including waiting time) to cover the roughly 250 km between the Latvian capital and Estonia's second-largest city.

Nešpors also commented on a public initiative and signatures collected on the re-establishment of a train from Rīga to Ventspils. He said that this is "not a priority".

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