Estonian railway company Elektriraudtee announced Wednesday that it signed a contract with Stadler Bussnang AG from Switzerland to buy 18 electric and 20 diesel trains to replace its current fleet, Soviet leftovers from the 1960s.
The European Commission accepted the company’s application to receive their financial support for the purchase on Jan. 27. 2010, which means the state-owned railway company can now buy the new trains. The cost of the electric trains is be €79.5 million of which 85 percent will be paid by European Commission. The diesel trains will be on capital lease from Stadler Bussnang AG for 20 years with the cost of €850,000 per month. The whole fleet will also receive all the necessary depot equipment, and 5-year spare parts under the procurement.
Eero Pärgmäe, vice chancellor of the Ministry of Economy said in the press release that “the objective is to offer faster and more comfortable public transportation in the future than even cars can offer.”
The new trains have air-conditioning, entry for handicapped, wireless internet connection, and train ticket vending machines.
“The new fleet enables larger flexibility on the schedule planning, and the new trains can also serve the lines that today don’t exist,” said Pärmäe. He also said creating a long wished for Tallinn-Riga express passenger train crossed his mind.
The first Stadler FLIRT will arrive to Estonia at the end of 2012. Three new trains will start the test rides for around Tallinn vicinity in the beginning of 2013. The first two diesel trains will arrive in April the same year, and the testing period for all trains is six months. The contract obligates the producer to deliver all the electric trains by the end of 2013, and diesel trains by summer 2014.
Riho Seppar, a board member of Estonian Railways told Baltic Reports in February that the current fleet of communist-era trains have been in use since 1966, undergoing some renovations.
“As it is important to develop the train’s comfort for the commuters, and to attract people to use public transportation and the speed to get from one place to another is also important,” Seppar said, “The trains today do not enable that.”