Monday, September 2, 2013

A golden age for Estonian infrastructure

This week I took in my application to extend my living permit in Estonia.  Even though I have been here a long time I still have to do it every year.  I often think about what Estonia was like back in 2002 when I got here for the first time.  A lot has happened since then, perhaps the thing that sticks out the most is the transportation infrastructure.  As I write this I am on a new electric train humming smoothly towards Keila.  It is bright, orange and beautiful.  The new trains is a big deal for Estonia, but only one of the many things.  I remember the first time I stepped in a new trolly bus back in 2002 or 2003, it felt like walking onto a space ship.  I remember the first time I walked into the bus terminal under the viru shopping center.  They are currently planning the Rail Baltica project, which would be a high speed train to Poland (which is already connected to Germany).  It will take about 10 more years until it is ready, but so far things have gone will with the planning.  Large road projects are also important to note with significant progress on the highways to Narva and Tartu.  New trains will go to Tartu in 2014 already as well. 

One of the weak links in the public transportation links are the Tallinn trams.  They are terrible.  Old, cold, loud, and anything else you could think up.  Tallinn just unveiled plans to extend and redo one of the tram lines and to buy some new trams.  The good news is that they look amazing!  very similar to the new trains, just a little skinnier. It will take a year or two before the project is finished. The bad news is that they are getting only 16 of them, currently there are 80 trams in service.  They don't have a plan yet to replace the other ones.  Hopefully Estonia will be able to get some EU funding to finish the job.  But either way, the golden age of Estonian transportation infrastructure continues!  Here are some pictures of what the new trams will look like taken from enjoy!

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