JUST WHEN it appeared that privatisation of Estonia’s modest rail network was going smoothly (RG 1.01 p6), the whole process seems to be back in the melting pot. On January 17 a court in Tallinn ordered that the sale of the dominant freight operation to preferred bidder Rail Estonia must be halted while an action brought by rival bidder RER was considered. As a decision by this court can be appealed to a higher court, the matter may not resolved for several months. Spice was added when Guido Sammelselg, Chairman of the third bidder Baltic Rail Services, rejected last month an alleged offer of Rail Estonia’s entire shareholding for 200m kroons as ’pitiable and unethical’. The shares had previously been offered to RER, backed by SJ in Sweden, for 250m kroons.

Meanwhile, inter-city passenger services will be withdrawn from March 3 because parliament has refused to pay Edelaraudtee, bought by GB Railways last year, more than 60m kroons in annual subsidy (RG 2.01 p84). A compromise reached last month will see replacement buses operating ’as a temporary measure’, whilst ways of reinstating the trains are examined.