Baltics to sign Rail Baltica agreement

Agreement on financing and implementation of the Rail Baltica railroad project has been reached and it will be signed in the three Baltic capitals Friday, as the Baltic joint venture RB Rail CEO Baiba Rubesa told Saeima European Affairs Committee, reported LETA news agency.

Technical work is under way so nine Baltic institutions would physically sign the agreement, said Rubesa. 

According to the agreement, RB Rail will have the central manager's role in the project, Rubesa said. The company will manage procurement, supervise marketing and business activities as well as the implementation of the project.

RB Rail representatives told LETA that the Baltic states have in principle supported the Agreement on the Contracting Scheme for the Rail Baltic/Rail Baltica that defines the roles of RB Rail and national organizations in procurement procedures.

Representatives of the three Baltic countries agreed on September 7 to divide all Rail Baltica procurements in three groups - procurements organized by the joint venture only, consolidated procurements implemented by the joint venture, and procurements implemented by national companies under supervision of the joint venture.

Rail Baltica envisages a continuous rail link from Tallinn (Estonia) to Warsaw (Poland), going via Riga (Latvia) and Kaunas (Lithuania). The Baltic route should be completed by 2025; the link to Warsaw-2030.

Finland interested if Baltics sort it out

Meanwhile Finland is ready to join the European-gauge railroad project Rail Baltica and become a shareholder in RB Rail if the Baltic states are able to "put the project on feet", Rubesa said Friday at the same meeting.

She said that Finland is interested in the project. It is not a matter of the coming months though, but soon negotiations with Finland can be started if the Baltic states are able to "put the project on feet".

She said that Finland is considering building a connection with Sweden, which would mean that the Baltic states would be connected also with the Scandinavian countries.

At the same time, she noted that there is quite large interest in cargo transportation using this infrastructure from the part of Finland, and one of the largest Polish logistics companies. It is hard to estimate the potential number of passengers yet as there has been no similar connections before.

Other rail news

Meanwhile Māris Bremze on Thursday stepped down as board member of state-owned passenger carrier Passenger Rail (Pasažieru vilciens). According to LETA, which cites Firmas.lv business database, Bremze has become board chairman at the Baltijas ekspresis private company. 

Transport expert Tālis Linkaits told Latvian Radio Friday that while it's unclear why Bremze has resigned, the tender for new diesel trains for the Passenger Rail company is expected to see further delays. "Looking at the [diesel train purchase] process as a whole, it's clear that the tender will end without a result," said Linkaits.

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