Tallinn Train Route Reopens
In spite of competition from many bus services to Tallinn, the train’s operator is confident the route will be profitable.
Published: May 30, 2012 (Issue # 1710)
A direct rail link between St. Petersburg and the Estonian capital of Tallinn reopened Sunday after a four-year break.
The train service between St. Petersburg and Tallinn was canceled in 2008 because of both technical and economic reasons, including insufficient demand. In the meantime, travelers have been able to reach the Estonian capital by car, bus or ferry (via Helsinki and Stockholm).
During the last few years, however, the interest in traveling to Estonia has increased greatly. According to data from the Russian Travel Industry Union, the number of tourists traveling to Estonia is growing by 15 to 20 percent annually.
“Interest in Estonia is constantly growing. This is in part due to nostalgia among the older generation of Russians,” said Sergei Korneyev, vice president of the Russian Travel Industry Union.
“Estonia also actively advertizes itself in Russia. Just think of the annual offers such as ‘New Year in Tallinn’ that can be seen everywhere.
“Estonia depends primarily on St. Petersburg tourists, partly because of failed expectations from European travelers,” he added.
However, the Russian–Estonian border does not currently deal well with the heavy influx of tourists.
“The more modes of transport there are to take people to Estonia, the better the situation is,” said Korneyev. “There are many people who are ready to travel by train. Although the train also has to stop for customs, it is more comfortable to sit on the train and wait for your passport to be checked than it is on the bus,” he said.
The journey on the new train takes about seven hours, slightly quicker than the journey by bus. The train leaves St. Petersburg for the Estonian capital once a day at 5:32 p.m. from Vitebsky Railway Station, and departs from Tallinn’s Baltic Station for St. Petersburg at 7:03 a.m.
The train has both first- and second-class carriages and a restaurant car and provides wireless Internet access. The train can seat up to 204 travelers.
In spite of the competition posed by many daily bus services between Tallinn and St. Petersburg, GoRail, the new train’s operator, is confident that the new railway route will be profitable. The company also sees increased traveler numbers as having important social and economic significance.
“St. Petersburg is a large city that has become a center of economic and cultural life,” said Alar Pinsel, head of GoRail. “Interest in traveling between Tallinn and St. Petersburg has been increasing for a long time. That’s why today, four years after having closed the route, we have made the decision to reopen the rail link to serve passengers from both Estonia and Russia,” he said.
According to Korneyev, the popularity of the new train will depend on its ticket prices. The price of a one-way ticket starts from 25 euros ($31).