On 1 September the Estonian capital of Tallinn opened the 1.5km (0.9-mile) extension of tram route 4 to the future Rail Baltica station at Ülemiste and a terminus at Tallinn Lennart Meri Airport.
The new route features two stops, a 150m tunnel under the railway and a four-lane road on the approach to the Ülemiste station. It is a key development in the creation of increased international accessibility for the capital region. Service on the new 1067mm-gauge extension operates at six-minute intervals during peak periods.
The project has cost EUR11.5m, of which 85% was funded through the European Union’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) as part of the Rail Baltica project; the City
of Tallinn has funded the remaining 15%.
Earlier in the month, RB Rail – which is responsible for the Rail Baltica project to build an 870km (541-mile) standard-gauge 240km/h (149mph) mixed-traffic railway linking the Baltic capitals with Poland and the broader European railway network – invited bids to conduct a feasibility and technical study for a light rail connection from the Old City Harbour/Vanasadam in Tallinn to Ülemiste.
The cost of the ambitious Rail Baltica project is estimated at EUR5.79bn, with the EU expected to offer contributions totalling USD4.634bn, and the three national governments in the Baltic region financing the remaining EUR1.154bn.
In recent years, Tallinn has extensively modernised its tramway infrastructure with the help of EU funds; track renewal and stop enhancements were an important prerequisite of the introduction of new rolling stock. A fleet of 20 CAF Urbos 2 low-floor trams were introduced into service on the four-line network on 31 March 2015.
Rail Baltica project co-ordinator Kristjan Kaunissaare said: “The new tramline, which now connects the airport, Rail Baltica future main passenger terminal in Ülemiste and the centre of Tallinn, is the first tangible result of Rail Baltica in Estonia.”