Government greenlights Rail Baltica route

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Latvia's government on Tuesday approved the route of Rail Baltic high-speed railroad in Latvia, however maintaining that discussions will be held with European authorities on a contested section running through the Salacgrīva region.

The government promised consultations will be held with the European Commission over the contested part of the route.

In particular, the Environmental Protection and Regional Development Ministry (VARAM), the Transport Ministry and the local authority of Salacgrīva region have been tasked to consult the European Commission on the possibility to construct a section of the railroad on a nature territory protected under EU law.

Rinalds Muciņš, state secretary at VARAM, told LETA that the consultations might begin in September and continue for two months.

The government also on Tuesday assigned a status of national interest to the rail track and its connected structures.

Salacgrīva residents argue the proposed route would involve the demolition of too many buildings and would impinge on a protected nature reserve, suggesting an alternative route.

During the government meeting, ministers were also shown the following video mapping out the planned route of Rail Baltica through Latvia.

The total cost of constructing Rail Baltica is estimated at €3.68 billion according to European Commission figures. The Latvian stretch of track will cost €1.27 billion. Around 80% of the cost will be paid for by EU co-financing.

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