ESTONIA: The Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF) announced on October that 30 Estonia is to accede to the COTIF convention with effect from January 1 2009.

COTIF established a uniform system of laws governing international rail freight (CIM) and passenger (CIV) transport. Estonia will be the last of the 25 EU member states with railways to join OTIF, which currently has 35 members in Europe, three in North Africa and four in the Middle East. The country had not previously joined because its traffic is dominated by flows to and from Russia, rather than to COTIF signatories.

Lithuania joined in 1995 and Latvia in 2000, and OTIF says Estonia's accession will create 'more favourable conditions, especially for the carriage of goods to and from those European States that apply the Uniform Rules concerning the Contract of International Carriage of Goods by Rail.'

Initially only the section of pan-European Corridor 1 running 273 km from Tallinn through Tapa to Valga on the Latvian border will be subject to the CIV and CIM uniform rules.