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Contact Us! - Reference - Estonia - Operators and Organizations  

Estonia as a member of the European Union has started to restructure it's railroad aorganzations. The railroad assets management and the operations have been separated, as the directives dictate. Also, there are around 10 freight operators and 3 passenger operators currently. Much of the current rail network, while ok for freight operations is obsolete for the passenger services' needs. European Union evaluating for building the Rail Baltica routes connecting Berlin Germany to Tallinn Estonia with the normal gauge rail. This new route would definitely open up the market and bring also many long distance Western carriers to the Estonian market in addition to the many such eastern parties.  
Estonian special feature is that it had for long 2 national organizations that both owned infrastructure and operated it: the Eesti Raudtee and the Edelraudtee. This was an important step of restructuring away from the Soviet period of Estonia before entering the Euripean Union ways of operations.  
National and international operators   
 Local operators  
  MOW operators
National and International Operators  
Operators, owners and other organizations within Estonian territory and beyond. While Estonia itself is a small country the international connections are important for the railway operations.
Edelraudtee (the Sotuhwestern Railways) is known as the Estonian medium distance passenger railroad operator. It operates a number of Soviet built DR1A and DR1B DMUs. In the past few years the Edelraudtee was said to be making loss due to more and more repairs needed to its aging Soviet period fleet. However in 2010 this was solved by ordering a new fleet of GTW2/6 and GTW 2/8 DMU built by Swiss company Stadler. These units will be operational starting in 2013. Edelraudtee also owns the infrastructure of the two lines south of Tallinn and from Tartu to the Latvian border.    
Above one of the Edelraudtee Emus at Tallinn station. Notice the Soviet period very high (and dangerous) platforms. While these allowed in the old days walking in the trains without steps, they really look out of place at many station outside Tallinn. With the arrival of the Flirt-EMUs and GTW-DMUs these structures will most likely be replaced by the much lower European type platforms.
Below one 5 and one 3 module Dr1 are making a quick stop at Tapa on their Tallinn to Tartu regional service. Tapa, a small town in the northern Estonia was earlier a lively junction of the railroad traffic. Structures behind the DR1 units are from the heyday of the place. The scale of the huge water tower and the freight station are enourmous for the time.
Edelraudtee DR unit making a stop at Tapa, Estonia
Edelrautee also has a few switchers for occasional switching work, below a typical Estonian switcher from the Soviet period,a CM33 numer 3141.


 Eesti Raudtee
Eesti Raudtee, the Estonian Railways, is by far the largest of the Estonian operators. It also was the largest owner of railroad infrastructure until 2009 due to the happenings in the past. While the Eesti Raudtee was an American company for several years, it has efficient structure and boasts its modern head quarters just below the Estonian Parlament house and also has several modern train operations control centers along its lines. 

When the Estonia regained its independence from the dissolving Soviet Union in 1991 the railroads pretty much got what rolling stock happened to be on their networks at the time, meaning numerous museum level locomotives and thousands of freight cars. There were also over thousand kilometers of track equipped with heavy and hard rail common in the "East". Soon the Estonian railways became a part of Ed Burkharts railroad empire and to solve the serious locomotive availability situation dozens of C36-7i/C30-7i locomotives were brought to Estonia from the U.S. Bogies of these units were rebuilt in a flash from the 1435 mm (4' 8,5") to run on the 1520 mm (5ft). The locomotives electrical systems were modernized and they were painted just the same as Wisconsin Central used in U.S. (also owned by Burkhart)! Why not use the latest locomotives: the catenary wires in Estonia are installed typically 4,6 meters high and the Dash9 series locomotives are 5,03 meters high! Even today the ES44s are only marginally lower so the C3Xs were the best locomotive for the task.

The C36-7i number 1546 of Estonian Railways is starting the bulk train from Tapa Estonia and rolling past water tower before taking the left track towards Russia. The extremely heavy rain is not digitally enhanced, it's real!

The C36-7i's and C30-7i's were up to the task as the newly formed Russia struggled to get its exports running again. The Estonian ports of Muuga and Paldiski provided the much needed capacity and the Eesti Raudtee was happy to move the huge unit coal, oil and other bulk material trains through its networks. While the traffic levels until 2008 were astonishing for a small European country, these have gotten now to significantly lower levels due to Russias own interests of doing everything itself within its territory. The numerous new ports on the Finnish gulf have already eaten much of the traffic away and even the importing of wood has declined due to the harsh export customs of the Russia. While the Estonians have easily switched from using the Russian wood to their own (huge forests exist in Estonia), the customs are reportedly hurting the Russian foresters severely. 

The Eesti Raudtee was finally sold back in 2007 to the State of Estonia, just before the sharp decline of the traffic (then visible). Currently the company has C30-7i and C36-7i fleet scattered around it's stations, with occasional lines of parked locomotives here and there during the recessions. The C-boats have proved their reliability and usability in all the tasks they have been assigned from the raw power needed to pull heavy freight trains to local switching duties. Unlike the Soviet period counterparts, these switchers can be turned on and off easily to conserve now very expensive diesel fuel. If Estonia was a European union member for a longer period, the Eesti Raudtee would also probably have many Traxx or Eurosprinter locomotives in it's service.
Elektriraudtee operates the electric trains around Tallinn area. These are of type ER2 and it's subtypes. The trains will be replaced by Stadler Flirt trains starting 2012.
ER-2 unit of Elektriraudtee stopping at Kehra, Estonia

 Go Rail
Go Rail (previously known as EVR Express) is part of the Estonian Go Group empire, that operates a number of different transport sectors businesses. The only train it currently runs is the nightly Tallinn - St Petersburg - Moscow express. The train consists of an RZD locomotive painted in Go Rail colors and old but internally slightly modernized Russian built coaching. Cancelled service that is likely to be started again in the future (by one or other of the companies) is the Tallinn - St Petersburg service. This would probably be the most lucrative route between two large population centers. However with Estonian roads rebuilt with the EU money the railroads of old Soviet period infrastructure left as that the railroads (owned by Eesti Rautee) can hardly compete in the passenger service.  

Above the GoRail painted Tep70 eastern passenger locomotive number 0320 pulling its train past Tapa yeard.
Below the Edelraudtee Dr1 and GoRail Tep70 (the same of the two existing units as above) share the tracks and high platforms at Tallinn station.
Edelraudtee Dr1 and GoRail Tep70 share the Tallinn station tracks in Estonia     
 RZD, the Russian Railways      
The Russian Railways RZD has some locomotives especially in Narva waiting for crossborder traffic like the brightly colored Tep70s below (notice the curtains on the side window!). Other types include 2Tep116 monster locomotives, so common in the East, in the picture unit .   
RzD 2Te116 number 1270 in Narva, Estonia
Transoil is the second largest privat operator in Russia and thus a very active in Estonian railfreight sector too. Transoil has been running unit trains for years between Russia and Estonian ports. The picture below shows another 2Te116 in assignment in Estonia. 

Transoils empty bucket train waiting for detarture at Muuga departures yard, EstoniaAbove numbers 1678 and 0700 of the Transoils huge fleet of 2Te116 heavy road locomotives. Above by the Russian border in Narva and at Muuga departures yard outside Tallinn, Estonia.    
 JSC Spacecom  
Spacecom is a large privately owned Russian Enterprise with a fleet of bright blue colored 2Te116 locomotives for export/import unit trains. This operator also wanted to operate to Finland, but since they were not able to give enough information for 2Te116 locomotive certification, no permission has been given yet. (Currently the Spacecom despite of its name is  not operating in space, but definitely that could be the direction to expand for future generations ;). In Estonia according to the company, three 2Te116 units plus CHME3 switchers are for lease.  


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Local operators   
 Eesti Polevkivi    
Eesti Polevkivi has a local network (connected to the national networks) in the northeastern corner of Estonia, where the burning rock deposits and the power stations are located. The operator has an active fleet of TEM2 switchers in duty feeding the mills. The burning rock is sandlike material that has been very important to the Estonia in the past newly gained independence years, when much of the power was produced on this substance alone. In addition, open mining is very labor intensive, creating much needed jobs. You can still spot the large mines for example by looking on the Google Earth in Estonia. 

Elektriraudtee is confined to less than 100 kilometers from the Tallinn center with the old Soviet electric railway 3000V network. The trains may look old, but are currently all modernized with very spartan passenger accommodations, except that they all seem to have a wireless broadband available for passengers! Below a picture of the modernized ER2 unit in Paldiski at the western most edge of the electric catenary wire.

Inside the ER2 unit
For the future, the Elektriraudtee has ordered 18 Flirt EMUs similar to the one below of the Finnish operator Junakalusto. Some details of the modular train might be different, but the general appearance is the same. 
Junakalusto Sm5 number 01 in Snowy Kerava Finland

 Muuga Sadam operator / Eurodexenergy     
Muuga Sadam, the harbor of Muuga and its surroundings, is operated by four (or more) Eurodex TEM2 locomotives, kept in an excellent condition. Muuga is the largest port in Estonia, capable on handling all kinds of goods with its impressive handling and storing facilities. The arriving railcars are towed to the harbor by the switchers from Muuga arrivals and departures railyard. Below will be a picture of three of the TEM2s on the evening on the lazy weekend day.

 Sillamäe Sadam    
Sillamäe was once one of the proud atomic cities of the Soviet Union. Today only the toxic waste from the period remains. Sillamäe (in English bridgehill) is also situated by the Finnish Gulf in an ideal palce for harbor. Although the current freight activities seem to be minimal, with just one TEM2 operating, the operator once had even a 2TE116 to haul unit trains on the national network to the harbor. Below the 2TE116 that was spotted by Ilkka Siissalo.    

Tem2 of the Sillamae Sadam


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MOW and other operators
The MOV business is one of the easiest railoperations to start. Like all other countries, Estonia too has a number of companies specialized to railroad infrastructure maintenance. 

 GO Track   
Part of the Go Group (along with the Go Rail) the Go Track is the railmaintenance business organization for the transportation empire. The rolling stock includes at least a number of old Finnish TKA-track trucks kept in good running condition. In the picture will be a weed spraying truck on its tour near Tallinn. 
 Horizon Paper  
One of our favorites in Estonia is definitely the Horizon paper, which operates a small railroad line in Kehra Estonia with its two TGM23bs and one TGM3. While Horizon is an American paper company, the high quality standards of operations show. To our sorrow the Russian export customs have meant that much of the incoming wood is transported by logging and woodchip trucks from the nearby huge forests (that could easily supply the factory indefinitely) and factories. Good for the Estonian economy, but eating the small raioperation away. 

 Volker Rail  
Volker Rail is a large Nertherlandic multi(euro)national MOV company that has larger operations in countries like the Netherlands and U.K. but also sells its services in countries like Estonia and Finland. Below will be a Volker rail painted CHME3 in Tapa Estonia.   
 VR Rata   
VR Rata (of Finland, north of Estonia)  has lately won several competitons for maintenance and upgrading of the track in Estonia and Sweden. We will add later pictures from our trip in 2008 and some Finnish originating rolling stock used daily in Estonia.  
 Museums, Displays, etc. 
This will be added later.  

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Created for by John McKey. Pictures by Ilkka Siissalo, Hannu Peltola, Stanislav Voronin and John McKey.


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© Railroad Reference 2004 - 2010  -  Updated 1.11.2010  John McKey