Lithuania says it has signed up to Rail Baltica

The chief executive officer of Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, or LG) said October 8 that he had signed Rail Baltica's contracting scheme agreement the previous evening after receiving the go-ahead from members of the state railway company's management board.

"I have signed the agreement, the same (agreement) that needed to be signed. A lot of noise about nothing. The management board members gave the necessary approvals, and I have already signed it," Stasys Dailydka told the BNS news service on Saturday, reported LETA.

The CEO said that the signing of the agreement on Friday evening, which was not announced to the public, was not related to a statement that the European Commission might suspend funding for the entire Rail Baltica project.

Shortly before the signing was announced,  Latvian Transport Minister Uldis Augulis said Lithuania's stalling could put the entire project in jeopardy.

RB Rail, the Baltic joint venture coordinating the European standard-gauge railway project, said that it had been informed by the EU's Directorate General on Transport and Mobility that it might launch procedures in the near future to suspend funding for Lithuania.

According to DG MOVE, the Innovations and Network Executive Agency (INEA) has to immediately review and make decisions on 106 million euros in already allocated funding and to decide on whether to suspend negotiations on an another grant of almost 191 million euros.

LG was the only party that had not signed the contracting scheme agreement. Dailydka warned on Friday that the deal was disadvantageous to the railway company in that it would make it responsible for RB Rail's mistakes.

The Rail Baltica project aims to construct a modern, high-speed rail link between the Baltic capitals at a cost of around €5 billion.

The reported signing of the deal came just before Lithuania went to the polls to elect a new government in a first round of voting on October 9. 

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