Rail Baltica delayed for at least two years, says Transport Minister

The major Rail Baltica railroad has been delayed for at least two to two-and-a-half years, and it is clear that the track will not be built in its entirety by 2026, said Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits (New Conservative Party) appearing on Latvian Radio's Krustpunktā February 21.

"It means that there's a big chance that construction works planned for 2020 will not start at that time," he said.

He was not keen on pointing the finger as to the reason for the delays, instead saying that the current focus is on carrying on with the project. "Well, we'll eventually get to the conclusion of who's responsible as well," he said. 

Linkaits likewise said it's likely there's not enough money for all the Rail Baltica initiatives in Latvia. While 85% of the project is covered by the EU, project demands and costs are growing. "What cost €10 earlier, now costs €15 and upwards of that," he said.

The minister has asked the involved parties to give a clear estimate on the gait of the project in Latvia, as well as the related costs and available funding. "We're working to ensure full funding. We're talking with Brussels and the Baltics about ways of rationally using up funding by reallocating funds between the Baltic states," he said.

"At the same time, we're looking at ways to ensure extra funding, as it's clear we won't be able to build something great just with EU funding," he said.

The Rail Baltica project provides for the construction of a new fast European standard gauge double electrified railway line from Tallinn to the Lithuanian-Polish border at a cost of around 6 billion euros.

Transport
Economy