Lithuania ratifies Rail Baltica

Lithuania's parliament on October 10 became the last of the three Baltic states to ratify an agreement that clears the line for the ambitious Rail Baltica infrastructure project to proceed.

Ratification of the Rail Baltica treaty by the three Baltic parliaments is a milestone step, demonstrating the interest of the Baltic region in the project, RB Rail board chairwoman Baiba Rubesa told the LETA news agency.

RB Rail, a Baltic joint venture coordinating the European standard-gauge railway project Rail Baltica, reported that as the Lithuanian parliament ratified the treaty today, all the three Baltic states have ratified the agreement signed by the Baltic prime ministers in Tallinn early this year. Latvia ratified the treaty on June 22, and Estonia ratified it on June 19.

"Three Baltic states have confirmed their long-term commitment to the Rail Baltica project development by ratifying the intergovernmental agreement in their parliaments. This is a milestone step to demonstrate the Baltic interest in the project implementation, relevant to different stakeholders – general publics of the Baltic countries, potential customers, contractors, industries connected with both construction and railway, and last, but not least important to the EU Commission, our main investor, and Finland and Poland, our partners in Rail Baltica implementation," said Rubesa.

The Rail Baltica Intergovernmental agreement is laying down the principles of the development of the new railway interconnection: the route, deadlines, technical parameters, funding conditions and ownership issues. It was signed on January 31, 2017, by Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas, Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis, and Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis in Tallinn.

The Rail Baltica project seeks to re-establish a direct connection between the Baltic states and the European railway network by building a European-gauge high-speed railway that would link Tallinn, Riga, Kaunas, Warsaw and Berlin. The EU will help finance the project from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for development of transport infrastructure. According to latest data, the project will cost EUR 5.8 billion, including a stretch built between Kaunas and Vilnius in Lithuania.

You can hear our long interview with Baiba Rubessa from a few months ago below.

Minutes from Latvia podcast 19: Baiba Rubesa on business and Rail BalticaMike Collier/LSM
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