March 21 deadline for Rail Baltica money says European Commission

The European Commission has said that all three Baltic States have to agree on a number of issues related to the organization and structure of the Rail Baltica railway project by March 21st, reported Estonian public television and Latvia's LTV on February 27.

Payment of a promised €110 million towards the 6 billion euro project relies on meeting the deadline, Latvian Television said, according to "informal" sources at the European Commission, with the money closely linked to a requirement for all three countries to come to step up their co-ordinated project management.

Until this happens, Brussels will not transfer the  €110 million. The EU is set to foot more than three quarters of the total costs of the massive infrastructure project to build a fast, modern rail connection through the Baltic states on European gauge track.

Baiba Rubesa, the head of the joint venture "RB Rail", established by Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, has previously stated that there has been a long-standing dispute between the countries about the progress of the implementation of the new railway line project. And Rubesa herself spoke out against the continuing influence of certain vested interest groups involved with the project, as previously reported by LSM.

Just one day after the March 21 deadline, the board of RB Rail, the consortium in overall charge of the project, is due to vote on Rubesa's future, further complicating the situation over the next three weeks. 

After an upbeat period last year during which it seemed the project was coming together, the complications and disagreements threaten to delay a project already with plenty of potential for delay and overspend unless a credible and authoritative management is in place with backing from all three Baltic states.

On a more positive note, members of the public are being invited to share their visions of Rail Baltica's future by visiting www.futuremeter.eu and filling out a questionnaire on current travel experience and possible future choices.

"At the end of the quiz, a futuremeter will determine participants’ individual readiness for the opportunities offered by Rail Baltica and global innovation. The first data collected and gathered about the Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian and foreign traveler in the Baltics and what it could be during Rail Baltica operation in 2030 will be presented at the annual main Rail Baltica event – the Rail Baltica Global Forum on April 10, in Tallinn," RB Rail said in a release.

The futuremeter will be running until the end of 2018.

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