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03.12.2021 12:31

Elron’s train ticket prices are due to change on the stroke of New Year

As of 1 January 2022, rail fares will increase by an average figure of 9.5%. The price increase is a necessary one, thanks to similar increases in diesel fuel and electricity costs, as well as due to higher infrastructure fees. Train ticket prices were last raised in August 2019.

‘Elron has so far avoided imposing an increase in rail fares, but diesel fuel and electricity prices have steadily been climbing upwards for quite a while now. This continual increase in input prices sooner or later has to have an effect on rail traffic. Therefore we have inevitably been forced to increase rail fares as a result,’ explained Lauri Betlem, chairman of the Elron management board.

Rail fares have remained at their current level for more than two years. During this period, the cost of inputs has grown significantly. Estimated expenses in terms of energy requirements - amounts spent on electricity and diesel fuel - are 45% higher than they were in 2020. This means that those expenses are 2.5 million euros higher than they were, while infrastructure fees which make it possible to use the tracks are now 16% higher - or more than three million euros.

The government subsidy to cover Elron’s operating expenses will next year amount to thirty million euros. The annual growth of this subsidy is 2.6 million euros which will not, however, fully cover the increase in the cost of the inputs.

‘Elron has so far been trying to avoid any rail fares increase. Unfortunately the overall increase in running costs now has a direct impact on train service provision, leaving no option but to increase ticket costs on Elron’s services by an average figure of 9.5%,’ explained Betlem, adding that this price increase covers the current increase in input prices, as well as the forecast for next year’s running costs.

The chairman of Elron’s management board explained that the fares increase will only add between ten and forty eurocents to the cost of a ticket on services within the vicinity of the cities, and around one euro to longer-distance services. ‘We will continue to implement the demand-based pricing of express services which we launched in 2019, which means that more favourable ticket prices are available for less popular departures,’ said Betlem.

Therefore, when buying a ticket on the train, the maximum new price of a journey from Tallinn to Rapla or from Tallinn to Aegviidu (a ticket which covers four travel zones) will be 3.7 euros instead of the current 3.4 euros. A ticket for the Tallinn-Tartu expert line will cost 13.6 euros instead of the current 12.5 euros. The current discount options will also remain available. For example, tickets which are purchased online will still cost 15% less, and tickets which are purchased from a ticket vending machine will still be 10% less than those purchased from a customer attendant on a train.

Elron intends to stick to the current train schedules on a nationwide basis for the first quarter of 2022, while offering a slight increase in the number of departures from the second quarter. ‘While Elron’s trains were used for six million journeys in 2021, we are hoping that the number of customers will increase again next year, and that we will be able to hit the level of seven million journeys by the end of 2022,’ said Betlem, admitting that restoring the pre-coronavirus service volume is estimated to take more time. He confirmed that Elron will carry on working to improve connection speeds on the Tallinn-Tartu, Tallinn-Narva, and Tallinn-Viljandi routes.