The Estonian government intends to increase train fares by as much as 10 percent next year, as stated by Minister Madis Kallas. Government ruled out the option of raising subsidies to maintain the current ticket prices.
Minister Kallas submitted a proposal for approval that suggests raising the cost of a single zone ticket from €1.60 to €1.80, according to the ministry’s statement.
Additionally, fares for tickets crossing multiple zones will surge by roughly 10 percent. These proposed price adjustments are set to take effect starting January 1, 2024.
Minister Kallas assured that the fare increase would not exceed 10 percent. He attributed the hike to Estonian Railways planning to raise infrastructure fees and the rise in other expenses like heating and labor costs.
Kallas explained that these factors necessitated a contribution from rail passengers to cover a portion of these increased expenses.
The anticipated effect of the new ticket prices is an estimated revenue increase of €3.5 million in 2024.
The minister stated that considering and dismissing the idea of the state covering the fare increase was part of the process. With subsidies already exceeding €30 million annually, funds are earmarked for both Elron and Estonian Railways for infrastructure enhancements.
Kallas mentioned studies indicating that the fare hike shouldn’t deter passengers or result in fewer people using trains. He highlighted the conducted analysis, emphasizing that the increase in fares was capped to avoid adverse effects.
Elron, the government-owned passenger train operator, aims for an 8 percent increase in passenger numbers next year, projecting around 8 million passengers.
Plans to increase capacity are in place, with the introduction of new trains by the end of 2024.
Additionally, the minister highlighted that the discontinuation of parallel free bus services for working-age individuals on certain routes from January 8 might positively influence rail passenger numbers.