Rail Baltica needs to speed up, says Transport Minister

Latvian Minister for Transport Tālis Linkaits said May 19 that construction of the Rail Baltica railway line must be accelerated.

“The geopolitical importance of the Rail Baltica railway line has grown even more since the war began in Ukraine, so a specific plan is required to build it sooner than planned,” Linkaits said when meeting the management of Rail Baltica joint venture RB Rail AS, according to a ministerial release.

“So far, Rail Baltica has been a particularly crucial connectivity and mobility project in the region, but with geopolitical changes, the significance of the project is particularly high. The new railway line will provide a fast and reliable transport corridor for freight and passenger transport from the Baltic States to Western Europe,” said Linkaits.

The Minister added that he wants a clear plan from the management of RB Rail to speed up the construction of the new railway line, including removing obstacles to the project.

“Although we see active construction at Riga Central Station and the future Rīga Airport Station, overall progress is not sufficient. There is a deviation from the planned schedules in the design process; it is especially significant for the Rīga section. Given the complicated nature of this stage, speeding up decision-making is essential,” Linkaits said.

The current plan is to perform construction works on the main route of Rail Baltica in sections where the first one is the southern direction from the Lithuanian border to Riga Airport. Work is scheduled to begin only next year. Train traffic could start in this direction in 2027. Lithuania also aims to maintain its ambition to build a European-width gauge railway line by the end of 2026.

Linkaits emphasised that the development of the southern section and the construction of a new two-level road and railway bridge over the Daugava River near Salaspils should be project priorities to start cargo transportation along the new railway line.

Within the framework of the Rail Baltica project, construction works at Riga Central Station and Riga Airport are planned to be completed by the end of 2025.

The 5.8 billion euro project is being 85% paid for by European Union funds with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania making up the remainder.

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