Baltic German society’s nobility provided the political and moral impetus for the construction of the line, though because of the Russian imperial influence the line was built to 1,524mm (5 ft) gauge in order to connect with the line from St. Petersburg to Warsaw .
The construction project was controlled by the Russian Ministry of Roads.
The port of Paldiski had been selectyed since its southerly position garenteed status as a ice free all the year round. Soon after the railway opened both Paldiski and Tallinn experienced an upswing in trade, most notably the exporting of grain. In 1877 another line was complete, thus connecting Tapa and Tartu, and a year later extended to Valga in 1887, which brought a connection to Latvia via the Pskov – Valga – Riga line also being constructed at the same time.
As well as this, there was a later network of narrow gauge railways (750mm) being built in Estonia, the first connecting Valga and Pärnu in 1896, then Mõisaküla to Viljandi (1897), later extended via Paide to Tallinn in 1901. In 1931, a 1524mm gauge line opened between Tartu and Petseri.
By 1940, the Eesti Raudtee (EVR) had 772 km of broad gauge and 675 km of narrow gauge track. New broad gauge lines were built in the 1960s replacing some of the narrow gauge lines while some others were closed and the last public narrow gauge line closed down in June 1973.
It carried 36.5 million passengers were being carried in In 1980. Estonia had begun moving towards a second independence in 1988, and by 1991 was recognised as an independent state. On the 1st of January 1992, Eesti Raudtee (EVR) came into being as a state owned company, run by the Estonian, not the former Soviet-come-Russian Government.